eye and shawl e1547487429118 - Darfur

(Right) a girl, 12, who lives at the Abu Shouk camp for displaced people near the city of El Fasher, capital of North Darfur State, relates how she was separated from two friends while on a mission to gather firewood, and raped by government soldiers. Although the incident was reported to police, no follow-up action was taken. Girls as young as eight years of age have been attacked, raped or killed trying to fetch wood, which is essential for cooking in the camp.

In late 2005 in Sudan, life for children in the three western states that comprise the Darfur region continues to deteriorate. Children represent 60 per cent of the region’s population. The civil conflict that began in 2003 has displaced some 2 million people fleeing terror attacks that include killings, abductions, gang rapes, looting and the burning of villages. People in camps for the displaced (and some 300,000 who live as refugees across the border in Chad) are receiving vital aid, but another 3 million people live outside the humanitarian safety net and fighting has recently intensified. UNICEF’s Child Alert Report on Darfur is the first in a series that documents the effect of crisis situations on children. Released on 20 December, the report warns of a possible permanent breakdown in the region’s economy and thus a sustainable way of life. The mobility required for trade and resource-sharing between farmers and animal herders has been disrupted. A breakdown in the agrarian economy, together with drought, has led to food shortages. And peace remains elusive, despite the presence of a United Nations peacekeeping force and other international initiatives to stabilize the region.