In Sudan’s Darfur region, women and young girls continue to bear the brunt of the insecurity. Many continue to be attacked and raped. Robyn Yaker is with the International Rescue Committee. From the town of Zalingei in West Darfur, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the situation there.
“There is a real problem with women collecting firewood in order to sustain their cooking and their family needs, sometimes as a form of income. First and foremost that they have to leave the camps in order to collect firewood, which is really unsafe for women and leaves them very vulnerable. Also, their firewood source in most areas is depleting. So now the women have to walk further in order to get the firewood, which leaves them even more vulnerable,” she says.
For a while African Union soldiers had provided some protection. “There were some firewood patrols that were being conducted by the African Union troops that were helping to protect women when they collected firewood. But in many areas the AU has suspended its services. And so now, for example, in Zalingei, the firewood patrol, which was our main form of protection for women, has ceased. And so the problem has resurged again,” she says.
The AU stopped its patrols following violence in the camps, which damaged AU property and injured personnel. Yaker says the IRC and other groups help women by providing women’s centers, offering them some shelter and empowerment in a seemingly “hopeless” situation.
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