Khartoum, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Sudanese Government has furiously rejected a report by UNICEF accusing the Sudanese Army of committing sexual assaults against children in the South. It described the report as “fabricated lies and a departure from the organization’s humanitarian mission”. Khartoum sent threats to the organization while in the same breath reiterating Sudan’s commitment to all international conventions on protection of women’s and children’s rights.
The office of the official spokesman of the Sudanese Armed Forces (Army) said the report was untrue. He said it was a reaction to accusations that the UN Mission in Sudan had engaged in immoral practices in the South and that the report was aimed at criminalizing the Armed Forces.
The office expressed surprise at the report and its timing, asking why it was delayed if what it contained was true. It said that the Armed Forces were subject to the civil and military laws and that any individual who commits a crime is taken to account according to the law. It noted that some individuals have been tried in Darfur, adding that a person who commits a crime in his country is taken to account according to the law, in contrast to somebody who commits a crime outside his country. The spokesman said that the issuance of the report at this time was unacceptable because the Armed Forces have withdrawn from the South after the signature of the Peace Agreement.
For his part, Justice Minister Muhammad Ali al-Mardi mounted a fierce attack on UNICEF, accusing it of deliberately defaming the Sudanese Army and tarnishing its reputation. Al-Mardi branded UNICEF with the charge of fabricating lies. This is the first severe battle UNICEF faces in the country where it has been operating for nearly 30 years.
Al-Mardi issued veiled threats to UNICEF by saying that “UNICEF by its reports has switched from its humanitarian mission to a political action hostile to the Armed Forces”. This is the same charge cited by the Government previously to deport Ian Bronk, the special representative of the UN Secretary-General, after statements in which he said the Sudanese Army had lost a battle in Darfur.
Al-Mardi said that what UNICEF did was “not becoming of it at all”.