Women and girls suffering most atrocities - UN

Women and children who have suffered most from atrocities like sexual abuse and rape, committed by armed men in northern Uganda, and southern and western Sudan, need help to access proper treatment and counselling services, a senior UN official said.

"We are very concerned about the protection of women and girls from sexual abuse and violence," Dennis McNamara, special adviser to the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator on internal displacement and director of the UN Inter-Agency Internal Displacement Division in Geneva, told IRIN in an interview on Friday, in Nairobi, at the end of a mission to Sudan and Uganda.

"There is no rule of law system up there - soldiers are on the move, the girls very poor, social structures have broken down," McNamara, said of the situation in northern Uganda. "We are also very concerned about treatment. There are no psychosocial counselling services on the ground enough for these women and girls."

Referring to the situation in Darfur, he told IRIN: "Women are being raped when they go out of the camps. The men are terrified to leave the camps because they tell us they will be killed. There is lot of abuse. The policing is not effective yet."

He added: "There are not enough agencies to treat the victims, so they don't get treatment. A raped woman in Sudan must report to the police before they can go to hospital. And most of them don't want to go to the police."

Calling for more support from donors for protection, McNamara said: "It is obvious in these situations that much of the attention is on aid - you have got to feed people, have housing and health. There is often less attention on the abuses. They are harder to find, less visible and harder to deal with."

[IRIN interview with Dennis McNamara]