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U.N. says rape persists in Syrian conflict

The report named 21 countries where rape and sexual violence was a distinctive feature of their conflicts

Published: Updated:

Rape and sexual violence has been a “persistent feature” of the three-year Syrian civil war, a U.N. report has claiming, citing information from civilians who have fled the country.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s report named 21 conflict-wracked countries, including Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Afghanistan, where rape and sexual violence have been a distinctive occurance.

The report details reported sexual violence in countries including Bosnia, Angola, Cambodia, Colombia, Guinea, Liberia, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

‘Fear of rape’

In Syria, “the fear of rape served as a driving motivation indicates that sexual violence has been a persistent feature for families fleeing the violence,” Zainab Hawa Bangura, the secretary-general’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict told a news conference.

The report stated that more action should be taken regionally and internationally to respond to such crimes, adding that there is now global political momentum to end sexual violence amid conflicts.

“Covering 21 countries of concern in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East, the report shows that this truly is a global crime,” Bangura said.

Militias, rebel groups and government security forces were among 34 armed groups identified in the report to be “credibly suspected of rape and other forms of sexual violence in conflict situation” in countries placed on the U.N. Security Council agenda.

Bangura noted that her office has found a link between committed sexual violence crimes and “the economic drivers of war,” adding that the groups use rape strategically to gain control of certain territories.

She said perpetrators almost never face justice, and victims often don’t get the physical help they need to be able to rebuild their lives.

Last September, Bangura told Al Arabiya News Channel that sex crimes in Syria are committed by both sides of the conflict, but put most of the blame on the Syrian government for “not being able to provide the security that it requires for its citizens.”

(With the Associated Press)