DOZENS of kids have been killed and sexually abused by brutal militia groups in Sudan, with the smell of dead bodies reportedly filling schools.
At least 19 children are among those confirmed to have been killed amid unrest that has engulfed the country in recent weeks.
Doctors now believe paramilitaries also carried out more than 70 rapes during an attack on a protest camp in Khartoum last week.
Violence erupted in April following the removal from office of Omar al-Bashir, the country’s strongman president of 30 years.
The military then launched a brutal crackdown on protesters staging sit-ins and demanding a transition to full civilian rule.
Reports have since emerged of repeated atrocities being committed by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a notoriously brutal militia with its roots in the Darfur conflict, which broke out in western Sudan in 2003.
Successful attempts by the army to cut off the internet in certain areas have made communication within the country intermittent.
But a doctor with access to data compiled by pro-reform group the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors told the Guardian that hospitals in Khartoum recorded the rape of civilians during and after the crackdown.
Several witnesses have also described cases on social media, but fear of reprisal and a lack of available care are reported to have stopped many victims from seeking medical treatment.
A film by Sky News this week showed a reporter trying to gain access to a school known to have been ransacked by the army but being stopped by soldiers.
John Sparks and his cameraman were threatened with violence when they attempted to enter the school, but said that “the stench of what smelt like dead bodies emanated from inside”.
SCHOOLS AND HOSPITALS TARGETED
Human rights activists and experts have described the reports of sexual violence as reliable.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said on Tuesday: “We have received information that children are being detained, recruited to join the fighting and sexually abused.
“Schools, hospitals and health centres have been targeted, looted and destroyed. Health workers have been attacked simply for doing their job.
“Many parents are too scared to let their children leave the house, fearful of violence, harassment and lawlessness.”
Violence on the streets has eased in recent days, but general strikes are still being used to try to force the army to relinquish power, and at least four protesters are known to have been killed over the weekend.
Faisal al-Taher, a patient at a Khartoum hospital who had been shot in the back, told Sky News: “They [the militia] had everything, with their weapons, their orders to kill, to rape, to loot.
“They do whatever they wanted and nobody will ever question them.