1 February 2006
The Minister of State for Development Cooperation and Human Rights, Mr Conor Lenihan T.D., met with Ms Maha Alsherief of Sudan Social Development Organisation (SUDO) on 1 February, to discuss the plight of women in refugee camps in Darfur, Sudan.
Ms Alsherief works as a protection officer for SUDO in the refugee camps in Darfur. She works specifically with victims of rape, sexual assault and abduction.
According to the UN, some 3.4 million people continue to be affected by the conflict in Darfur, of whom 1.8 million are internally displaced and approximately 300,000 have fled to neighbouring Chad. This level of internal displacement has exacerbated rates of gender based violence, including rape, sexual assault and abduction.
Speaking after the meeting, the Minister said: "All too frequently we see the brutal rape of women and children used as a weapon of war. Sexual violence is now an integral and devastating part of the ongoing conflict in Darfur."
He added that meeting Ms Alsherief gave his department "invaluable information that can only enhance our understanding of the scale and harrowing affects of this type of violence."