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Refugees in DR Congo

An Eye on Mass Rapes in the DRC

by Safe World's DRC Correspondent, Mugisho Theophile, founder of COFAPRI

The mass rapes caused by consecutive wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)  weigh heavily on the population--particularly women and girls.

The number of the women and girls who have been raped remains unknown, although some reports advance the figure of 200,000.

HISTORY

The Rwanda genocide occurred in 1994.  Its  perpetrators fled to Zaire under Mobutu; Zaire today is known as the DRC. It was sometime later after the dictator Mobutu was overthrown in 1996 that the rapes began in the DRC.

Then, the African World War opened, which involved eight African nations.

Between 1998 -2007, it is believed that more than 5.4 million people died.

This war became the second deadliest war after the WWII, due  to the struggle over gaining control of the rich mineral reserves that the country engorges.

Moreover, this battle caused thousands of people to be displaced from their homes: some took refuge in the forests, others went to neighbouring countries, and many more decided to stay home.

RESPONSIBILITY

The perpetrators of these awful human rights infringements are varied, and among them, the Interahamwe, who are the people who committed the genocide of 1994 in Rwanda, and who also took refuge in the Eastern DRC.

They are collaborating with some May May, and other rebel groups who are operating from the forests of the DRC, where they are located.

The forests contain lots of minerals from which they mine. They are making a fortune by selling those minerals, which is supporting their bunkum actions. (bunkum refers to bizarre and devlish actions on people.)

As these Interahamwe have been living in the DRC for more than a decade, they have corrupted some local citizens  to violate human rights just as they do themselves, such as involving them in rapes.

Some reports have indicated that recalcitrant units of the governmental and UN peace keepers are also involved in rapes.

The latter cases are not as numerous as the ones mentioned above, but they are a breach of human rights .

SOLUTIONS?

Measures have been taken to hinder the ongoing spread of the rapes. Various local and international organizations have always denounced these awful acts of barbarism on humankind in the Eastern part of the DRC since the rapes began.

By spreading the awareness of what is happening in the  country, churches have played a key role in helping bring peace to the DRC. They denounce different barbaric acts committed in the country, and those who are involved in it.

Churches also bring some moral and material assistance to some victims.

There are churches that are strongly involved in mobilizing anyone holding an illegal arm to submit it; and anyone who renders one's illegal arm is given fifty dollars. It is a good process to reduce rapes and banditry, to foster security in general.

THE UNITED NATIONS

The United Nations has deployed some peacekeepers in the country to alleviate the situation.

Congo contains the largest UN mission contingent in the world with more than 20,000 blue caps.

The collaboration between the UN and the DRC government to extradite some of the Interahamwe by the UN peace keepers is also helping to reduce barbarity in this part of the country.

However, some local and international reports reveal that the UN has failed its mission in the DRC by not faithfully carrying out their mission of protecting the local population.

The media, local and international, has played a great role in combatting rapes and different atrocities committed in the DRC.  Local media and journalists have even been attacked by  people who do not want the world to learn about their barbarity.

The local population has done much through their solidarity to assist the victims, such as taking them to the hospital. One of the hospitals that are doing a lot to help the raped women and girls is Panzi hospital, located in Bukavu.

A very interesting and encouraging sign from the government is that they have voted on a law to halt any illegal mineral exploitation in the Eastern DRC.

Earlier, the same idea was nurtured by country members of the Great Lakes Region. If this law is carefully implemented, it will bear positive outcomes.

HELP

Your Help Will Be Invaluable

These rapes and other atrocities committed on human beings are a national issue.

This is a situation that needs everyone to be involved for positive resolution. Wherever you are, promote this noble fight against human rights violations in the DRC.

If possible, write to the DRC government to do more and end completely the war in all the corners of the country.

Ask various officials in your respective regions to take tough action against the perpetrators of rapes in the country.

Raise awareness of rapes and the evils of the perpetrators by denouncing the evildoers and their acts.

If this is done at the local, national, regional, and international levels, we will help reduce and discourage violence.

Also, consider making a donation to organizations that are strongly committed to put an end to this plight, and to better the social conditions of women and girls of the DRC.

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Write to the DRC Government:

President Joseph Kabila:  pr@presidentrdc.cd