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Sudanese Girls Sold into Marriage

Sudanese girls who fled their country’s civil war in the early 1990’s are reportedly being sold into marriages by their foster families in the Kahuma refugee camps of Kenya. More than 1200 girls are believed to have fled Sudan when civil war broke out in 1992. However, while many of those girls left Sudan seeking peace and security in the Kenyan camps, many never arrived are still unaccounted for. Others, who did reach the camps, were taken in by foster families.

However, where UN officials once believed that the girls were being taken care of by foster parents, a recent UN report from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees suggests that many of the girls are being sold to wealthy Sudanese businessman for high dowries. The head of the Nairobi office of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Felipe Donoso, blames the international community for such events, stating that Sudanese girls were not given the same level of international attention that their male counterparts received. Many of the boys who fled Sudan during the civil war came to be known as the “lost boys” of Sudan. Thousands of whom were resettled to the US last year. Donoso claims that the resettlement of the boys but not the girls is a violation of the Geneva Convention’s protection for victims of armed conflict. A spokesperson for the US Embassy in Kenya claims that the embassy and US State Department are looking into the matter.

Sources:

UN Wire, 4/10/02