DR Congo

The United Nations is determined to put an end to sexual violence in the DRC

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Kinshasa, 16 December 2009 - Within the framework of the fight against sexual violence in the DRC, the United Nations has elaborated an overall strategy, an integrated plan of important actions to support the governmental strategy in the fight against sexual violence. During 2009, UN agencies and MONUC undertook several activities aimed at highlighting and combating the problem.

MONUC, within the framework of actions aimed at reinforcing the protection of civilians, elaborated a booklet that is at the disposal of the Blue Helmets, as they all received training notably on concrete actions in the fight against sexual violence. Thus, the Blue Helmets are more aware of the problem when conducting patrols.

They are trained to be especially vigilant during market patrols, security escorts for field workers, nocturnal and pedestrian patrols and deployment to strategic places. For example, in Kibua in North Kivu, about 16 patrols take place every month in different markets.

Within the framework of the overall strategy, there are also actions of advocacy, of sensitization of the communities and mobilization of the masses. This has been achieved through theatrical representations, radio broadcasts, comic strips and open debates through community networks. Thanks to this campaign, at least 260,000 people have been sensitized on sexual violence.

In South Kivu, mobile movies reached 24 communities in Walungu and Kalehe for example, and some community networks have been established also in Mwenga, Kalehe, Uvira, Fizi and Walungu.

A total of 120 community networks have been established in 2009, and training has been organized for them and notably for their leaders. 326 communal and religious leaders have been trained in relation to the prevention of sexual violence and HIV/AIDS.

In North Kivu, 581 women have been trained on the relative Congolese laws regarding sexual violence and on the bringing of cases of violence to justice. In 2009, 290 other women activists advocated against rape in the DRC, and in Mugunga, 994 displaced women received a professional training that had a positive impact on the lives of 75% of them.

Training sessions and other forms of support were organized for the national police in the domain of specialized judicial procedures in 2009, in particular four training sessions organized for 54 police officers in displaced persons camps around Goma.

On the military side, 891 members of the DRC Armed Forces (FARDC), including officers, soldiers and commanders of the 11 military regions, benefitted from training sessions, as well as judges, lawyers and penitentiary staff. About 580 military magistrates, members of the judicial staff and lawyers benefitted from this formation.

The actions of prevention have been widened to centres of detention and jails that have been rehabilitated, notably in Kinshasa, Kananga and Kalemie, permitting the efficient separation of men and women convicts.

Within the framework of the fight against the impunity of sexual violence perpetrators, the United Nations is supervising the administration of justice through the judicial processes, including the follow-up of cases, working in collaboration with the competent judicial authorities and NGOs.

Thus, during the last two years, the UN has, through the intermediary of the judicial authorities and local NGOs and by direct investigations, supported the preliminary phases of more than 2,000 cases, and registered more than 1,100 complaints by the competent jurisdictions, resulting in more than 250 arrests.

On the medical side, more than 19,200 sexual violence victims have been treated in 2009. 40 medical establishments have been rehabilitated and equipped, most of them having received medical materials, supplies and medicines, including emergency post exposure HIV prophylaxis, emergency maternal care, and treatment for HIV/AIDS. There was also the holding of mobile clinics to reach survivors in the remote zones, as well as the repair of fistulas damaged by sexual violence and rape.

With regard to psychosocial support, 19,000 sexual violence victims, including 3,900 children, have been assisted by the partners of the United Nations, notably through the reinforcing of the capacities of the beneficiaries of services and the rehabilitation and equipping of psychosocial support centers.

The UN has also facilitated the socioeconomic reintegration of victims in several regions of the DRC, including 300 families in Masisi, 100 families in Kiwanja and 50 families in Rutshuru, all in North Kivu province. During the first six months of 2009, 497 children have been returned to local schools, 955 have been reintegrated with their families, and 2,072 participated in economic reinsertion activities.

It is necessary to add that social rehabilitation projects of ex-combatants were also spread to girls and women ex-combatants, or to those associated with armed groups that were the victims of sexual violence.