19 February 2010
Chad: No Safe Place for Women

Sudanese Women living in refugee camps in eastern Chad are facing rape and other forms of violence. Outside the camps, they face a range of abuses from harassment and threats to physical attacks, committed by members of opposition armed groups, bandits and members of the Chadian security forces. Within the refugee camps where they live, women and girls are also exposed to violence at the hands of other refugees including members of their own families and in some cases, staff of humanitarian organizations.

Eastern Chad, which shares a border with the conflict-ridden Darfur region of Sudan, continues to be wrecked by conflict and insecurity and hosts more than 260,000 Sudanese refugees, most of them women and children and 180,000 internally displaced people.

Few of the women who face this violence can ever expect to see justice. There is a deeply entrenched culture of impunity which means that women see little point in reporting the violence they face as perpetrators are rarely brought to justice. Those who do report the violence they face are hampered by a lack of protection under the law and a justice system which is not equipped to deal with cases of rape and other violence against women. The system is poorly resourced and even lacks sufficient court rooms to host proceedings.

A Chadian police force (the Détachement Integré de Sécurité, DIS) has been trained and works with the United Nations mission in the country, MINURCAT, to provide security in and around refugee camps and sites for internally displaced people in Eastern Chad. While the deployment of the UN mission and the DIS has reduced the levels of violence in the country, refugee women and girls continue to face rape and other violence in and around the refugee camps.

The government of Chad has now asked the United Nations Security Council not to renew the mandate of the MINURCAT after 15 March 2010. Without this protection, it is likely that women and girls will be exposed to further attacks.

Take action now. Call on the President of Chad to increase the protection of refugee women and girls in Eastern Chad.

Image caption: Women return after collecting firewood near Gaga refugee camp, Chad, May 2009.

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