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Sudan: UN experts warn over rise in trafficking of children for sexual exploitation

By Sudan Tribune

March 25, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZ

March 23, 2024 (GENEVA) – United Nations experts on Friday expressed alarm about increasing reports of trafficking in persons, especially women and girls, for purposes of sexual exploitation and sexual slavery, child and forced marriage, and the recruitment of boys for participation in hostilities in war-torn Sudan.

The UN experts report comes against the backdrop of the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the country that has been at war since mid-April 2023.

According to the experts, access to support for victims and survivors has reportedly deteriorated since December 2023, eight months after the outbreak of conflict between Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese army (SAF).

Young women and girls, including internally displaced persons are reportedly being trafficked for sexual slavery and other forms of sexual exploitation, it said.

“We are appalled by reports of women and girls being sold at slave markets in areas controlled by RSF forces and other armed groups, including in North Darfur,” the experts said in a report to the Human Rights Council.

The UN experts, in their report, further expressed concerns about the increase in child, early and forced marriage, reportedly a result of family separation, and gender-based violence, including rape and unwanted pregnancies.

“Despite previous warning to both Sudanese authorities and RSF representatives, we continue to receive reports of recruitment of children to actively participate in hostilities, including from a neighbouring country,” noted the report.

“The recruitment of children by armed groups for any form of exploitation – including in combat roles – is a gross violation of human rights, a serious crime and a violation of international humanitarian law,” it added.

The experts expressed concern at continuing looting and attacks against UN agencies key to delivering humanitarian relief to a population greatly in need.

“The capacity of humanitarian organisations to provide support has been limited after they were forced to close programming in the face of looted or destroyed offices and response spaces, including Women and Girls Safe Spaces (WGSS), confidential corners, and hospitals,” the experts warned.

“We are concerned that humanitarian, civil society and aid agencies are finding it difficult to operate in and access areas affected by conflict due to continuous interference. We have received reports indicating the control of armed groups over freedom of movement, including for aid organisations to travel and reach affected communities,” they said.

“We are gravely concerned at the targeting of at-risk populations, particularly women, children, refugee and internally displaced persons, and the increased risks of trafficking in persons due to ongoing hostilities in Sudan,” the experts said, adding “We call for accountability and effective investigation of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, as required by international law.”

The experts further expressed concern about the impact of the closure of the UN Mission in Sudan, against the backdrop of continuing violence and insecurity.


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