Darfur women expect worst crisis if ICC indicts Bashir

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- Sudanese women leaders, attending a peace forum h ere, Tuesday expressed fears that an impending indictment of President Omar El-B a shir might have profound effects on the welfare and security of women in Darfur.
The Darfur women, meeting under the auspices of the Sudanese Women's Forum on Da rfur, said the joint United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) was already reducing its ground presence in the region.
Sudan's President is facing a possible indictment from the International Crimina l Court (ICC) over genocide charges in Darfur.
The judges of the court are expected to give their verdict on a request issued e arlier in 2008 by the court's prosecutor Moreno Ocampo.
"The impact of the ICC indictment should be considered.
If the UNAMID is already starting to reduce its presence and they are the military, what will happen to t he civilians? A spokeswoman for the Darfur women, Mona Elsharif, posed at a news conference.
Sudanese politicians are jointly opposed to the possibility of the ICC indictmen t and the effect it might have on the situation in Darfur.
Sudanese lawmaker, Dr.
Attiat Mustafa, said the Sudanese people would not accept any "distortion" of the peace process in Darfur.
"We are sure there would be no more negotiating table if the arrest warrant is i ssued.
we would not accept anything that would create a distortion of the peace in Sudan," Mustafa said.
The Darfur women's forum has been discussing the crisis facing the Sudanese wome n over the past few years since the Darfur conflict broke out.
The Fammes Africa Solidarity (FAS), the Geneva-based gender advocacy group spear heading a fight for the voice of the women to be heard on the crusade for peace i n Darfur, said it has made significant steps to have women recognised as negotia t ors.
FAS Executive Director Bineta Diop said the organisation supported any measure t aken by the international community to have peace restored in Darfur, adding tha t her campaign to have the Darfur women join the mediating table was receiving re g ional support.
The Sudanese government has agreed to form an inter-ministerial committee of the cabinet to look into the critical issues regarding women and peace in Darfur, t h e officials said.
However, the Darfur women expressed fears the indictment of Bashir might have pr ofound impact on the peace and security situation, affecting the women.
"Nobody denies that people who have committed crimes should face prosecutions, b ut this might be weighed against the impact it will have on the security situati o n.
We are waiting to hear what will happen if the ICC indictment comes," Elshari f said.
Sudanese officials warned in September that they would not guarantee the safety of the UNAMID officers on the ground in Darfur if the President was indicted on c riminal charges of organising crimes against humanity in Darfur.
At least 2.
7 million people have been displaced internally from the fighting in Darfur and more than 67 per cent of these are women.
The Darfur women said rape is the most common form of abuse against women but sc hool dropouts were increasing.
"The most harmful abuse of women is rape.
This is happening inside the camps and the beating of the women as they go out in search of firewood.
There is a lack o f basic services.
The conditions people are living in are not fit," Elsharif tol d journalists.
She said increasing school dropout rates in Darfur was worrying most women psych ologically as most of the school dropouts join the government army or the militi a .
"How will the civilians deal with the situation on the ground if the UNAMID is a lready reducing its presence?" Elsharif wondered.

06 january 2009 16:18:00

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