For immediate release
Date: 4 May 2006
Roselyn Gicira, Partnerships and Communications Officer, East and Horn of Africa Sub-Regional Office, +254 20-762-4725,
Nairobi — The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the United Nations Mission for Sudan will provide technical support to the African Union's (AU) newly established Committee of Inquiry, following recent reports in the news media of alleged sexual violence, including rape and child abuse, by AU forces in Darfur.
Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, Head of the AU Mission in Sudan and Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission, said that setting up the Committee was an immediate response to the news reports, which first aired in a British Television Channel Four documentary. According to Kingibe, the Committee will examine the contents of the documentary and establish its veracity or otherwise, identify those responsible for the violations and make recommendations on appropriate sanctions, in conformity with the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women, which came into force in 2005. The Committee of Inquiry is headed by Winnie Byanyima, Director for Women, Gender and Development of the AU Commission, the secretariat and executive body of the 53 African member state grouping.
Regional Programme Director for UNIFEM in East and Horn of Africa, Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda, welcomed the urgency with which the Committee was set up following the news reports, saying that it gives a ray of hope to African women, children and survivors of violence that impunity and inaction by authorities is being seriously dealt with. "It sends immediate warning bells to perpetrators of sexual and gender based violence that impunity will no longer be the order of the day in Africa," she said.
UNIFEM is partnering with the African Union to support Darfurian women's participation at the Abuja Peace Talks, and facilitate implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325 and the AU Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality. Protection of women's rights in Darfur and the traumatic experiences of violence and displacement have been recurring themes demanding immediate action by all parties. UNIFEM is urging all parties to the peace talks to expedite its conclusion and restore security and dignity to the war-affected women and children of Darfur.