Annex to June 29, 2021 Update: Responding to Sexual Violence in Darfur
Given the almost total lack of human rights reporting from rural areas in Darfur—and indeed the region as a whole—the first-hand observations by the counselors of Team Zamzam provide a singular glimpse into life in Zamzam camp and rural areas as represented by the Dar Al Naiem region significantly to the east of El Fasher. We hear nothing about these populations, often desperate, without access to news sources, and threatened by acute insecurity, especially during the spring planting season and fall harvest. Thus the particular value of these observations and reports from Team Zamzam for June (a planting month as the rains have started).
A notable event for Team Zamzam (received June 28):
[From Fatima] One of our counselors gave a birth to baby boy. She is in good health and very happy. She will be given 2 months paid leave and replaced by another cadre.
Below message from her: “Hello to all my dear colleagues!””
As you know, I am now a mother for the first time as of five days ago. My baby and I are fine and in perfect health. I feel proud today and the happiest mother in the world. I have worked with you since last year, and I learned many things that are useful to me. I am very happy and proud today because this wonderful job has enabled me to be a healthy mother. Today I cannot find sufficient words to express my thanks and appreciation for those noble individuals who created and supported this project. Because of this project, we became the only beacon of hope to our forgotten sisters in North Darfur. Because of this project we became like one caring family. I will never forget those good moments together. Many thanks to those who supported this project, many thanks to you all.”
From the coordination coordinator Fatima (received via Gaffar June 18, 2021)
“From the beginning of the first week in June to the 13th of June, we have intensified the private sessions talks with the number of victims of sexual violence in the Dar Al Naiem area for the second time in a row; this time we have found a welcome and a friendly reception from most of the people. This time we also noticed the number of newcomers had dramatically increased from previous month [May] by at 50%, but thanks God we were able to perform our work efficiently, effectively and practically.
“And all this is because of a sense of collectivity and high team spirit focused for one mission. What we have come to realise is that in these rural villages there are many, many women—and in particular young girls—suffering silently from depression. The overwhelming majority are the result of sexual abuse and rape that have occurred during the autumn [harvest] period.
“In these rural areas, over 90% of women and the young girls are illiterates and cannot write or read. They can’t even read their names, and when we ask them why they don’t report these heinous crimes, most of them think if they do anything, this may bring shame and stigma to their families. Only now after our work have some of them realised that what happened to them is was not their fault after all. They now began to understand the importance of talking and sharing and I’m very much hopeful that in coming weeks and months many people will come to talk to us.
“There are many [unfortunate people] in this sad Sudan. and one cannot understand of this reality until one ventures into these forgotten rural; and the further you go, the more misery and injustice you will see. Interestingly, there are many people who still think Omar al-Bashir is president. And when you ask them about the revolution [of 2019], they ask you what you mean. I recommend that after our mission in bringing provisions here, literacy classes for these girls begin in their villages and communities.”
Update from the coordinating counselor, June 1 – June 12:
Distribution of basic necessities:
For this May, basic necessities have been distributed in all four sectors of the Zamzam camp; additionally, provisions have been provided in the are of Dar Al Naiem—about 40 kilometers from the Zamzam camp and located to east of El Fasher. The type of basic necessities for this month (June) is composed of sugar, flour, rice and washing soap.
74 families in Dar El Naiem (167 persons)
67 families Zamzam camp (154 persons)
Total: 141 families
Total: 321 persons
Categories of beneficiaries of this distribution:
33 families caring for people with disabilities/handicapped or mentally disabled
13 families caring for blind persons
42 families that are isolated mothers in care of orphans
19 families caring for very elderly people
25 families most seriously impoverished
Other essential necessities:
• 42 boxes contained women’s cotton, toothpaste, shaving razors and shaving creams
• Boxes of Infliximab pills antibiotics [for bladder infection so common among women with fistulas
• therapeutic art supplies.
42 victims of sexual violence
27 patients needing medicine for fistulas
23 people benefited from art supply materials
33 group counseling sessions in Dar Al Naiem
63 individual counseling sessions Dar Al Naiem
38 group counseling sessions in Zamzam camp
84 individual counseling sessions Zamzam camp
Total: 71 group counseling sessions
Total: 147 individual counseling sessions/private talk sessions
Number of repeat visits: Zamzam camp.
52 victims repeated sessions in Zamzam camp
19 victims repeated three times in Zamzam camp
Number of repeat visits: Dar Al Naiem
28 victims repeated sessions in Dar Al Naiem
15 victims repeated sessions in Dar Al Naiem
Fistula Surgeries, June 2021:
Amani Hashiem H, 22 years old
Zainab Ali D, 29 years old
Mouniera Mursal S, 23 years old
Hawa Idriss A, 34 years old
Clinic (EGRAA specialised Centre)
Total costs: $1,600.
“With regard to the situation of victims of sexual violence, there is a noticeable improvement of behaviours, and despite the increase in the number of newcomers, most of the beneficiaries of this private talk sessions programmes confirmed usefulness and benefits of this programme.”
Report from the coordinating counselor, June 9:
“Last month [May] we have registered and conducted over 90 counseling sessions here [Dar Al Naiem], but for this month I believe will be meet with even more people who are interested to share their sufferings with us. Their confidence is growing and I see it clearly on their faces. When we arrived here two days ago, there were already more than 22 people, mostly young girls, waiting patiently to welcome us warmly.”
Coordinating counselor’s report on June 4 meeting and outcomes (as rendered by Gaffar):
“In the presence of all team members, the coordinator have provided a full and comprehensive report on the achievements of the past month [May], developments inside and outside the camp, and the condition of health and people’s livelihood. In the report, the coordinator has highlighted the deterioration of the health situation in the camp, which continues despite the fact that most inhabitants are in busy preparing for the upcoming planting season. She said, “many people are sick here but the problem is nobody is paying enough attention to ask what are likely cause of this illness.” [There is abundant evidence of the presence of Covid-19—ER]. And she also raised the concerns of the camps inhabitants about the security situation in the rural areas where people go out for farming. In addition to this, she also said the list of victims in Dar Al Naim is grown by at least 50% since their last trip.”
“After the meeting the following decision has been taken for the activities of this month:
• A 6-member of team with 2 security personnel will head to rural area, namely to Dar Al Naiem area for a one-week mission.
• The rest of the team will resume their working duties and all other activities in Zamzam as scheduled starting by distribution of critical supplies on Monday June 7th onwards.
• Four fistula patients have been selected for operation for this month. Three of these are from Zamzam and one from Dar Al Naiem. The names/ages of four selected patients will be sent in the coming few days with their photos and total bills will send after the operation.