SUDAN: UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict engages with parties to address sexual violence

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New York, 01 August 2023

Today, SRSG Patten, pursuant to the Security Council mandate to engage with all parties to armed conflict, met with Major General Abdul-Rahim Dagalo, Deputy Commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). During the meeting, SRSG Patten raised serious concerns about increasing sexual violence in Khartoum and Darfur, including cases implicating arms bearers affiliated with the RSF. SRSG Patten further raised the issues of the targeting of medical infrastructure and personnel providing essential support to survivors of sexual violence, attacks on women’s human rights defenders and civil society organizations, abductions of women and girls, as well as reports of slave markets in Darfur. The dire humanitarian situation in Sudan, the critical importance of survivors being able to safely access timely medical and psychological assistance, and the importance of meaningful engagement in ongoing peace and mediation processes, were also emphasized.

SRSG Patten recalled that in her press statement of 24 May 2023, she had urged all parties to the conflict to guarantee the immediate cessation of violence against civilians, including sexual violence, and to ensure unfettered access for humanitarian service providers. In addition, SRSG Patten underlined that both the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been listed in the annex to the Report of the Secretary-General on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence since 2017, as parties credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of rape or other forms of sexual violence in a situation on the Security Council agenda.

In terms of next steps, SRSG Patten urged the RSF to issue a formal undertaking in the form of a “unilateral communiqué” condemning conflict-related sexual violence and committing to effective measures to prevent and address any such violations with a time-bound implementation plan, as well as command orders that declare zero-tolerance for sexual violence as part of upholding military discipline. In response, Major General Abdul-Rahim Dagalo acknowledged the gravity of sexual violence in the context of the armed conflict and agreed to issue the communiqué to combat these crimes.

The Office of the SRSG on Sexual Violence in Conflict will continue to closely monitor the situation and to engage with both parties, the SAF and the RSF, to ensure that the categorical prohibition of sexual violence under international law is respected and enforced.