An urgent appeal for funds to help women who have been raped by combatants in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is being made by the Church of Goma Diocese of Bukavu.
The appeal for $30,420 is for an emergency programme to respond to the conflict-related disaster unfolding in eastern DRC where rape is used as a weapon of war, and where women and girls find themselves rejected by their family and community, as well as being seriously injured.
Tragic accounts have been received about the plight of the women affected, including this one that came in recently from the Rev Desire Mukanirva who is organising the programme which provides women with medical, counselling and livelihood support:
“I am afraid to inform you that one of these victims reported to my wife weeping and under trauma that she has been raped for the second time recently and is pregnant from this rape. She fears to be chased out from her home by her husband. She is very much traumatised and stressed and our counselling seems to be hard to such tough cases”
Recently the calls for help have come from Masisi, Minova and Rutshuru towns in the rural area. Rebel and soldiers rape women and girls as young as six years old, several men attacking the same woman and on repeated occasions.
Recently, the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (MONUSCO – OHCHR) produced a devastating report on the human rights violations committed by the Congolese armed forces and combatants of the M23 in the North and South Kivus Provinces. These violations included including rape which according to the report was committed in a “widespread manner”.
After going through such dramatic experience, the women suffer many other tragedies. Those who can afford it, go to Goma city looking for help in the church. They are severely traumatised and need to be tested for HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases. There is frequently the case that their husband does not want them anymore and they are abandoned very often with a pregnancy. This contributed to an under registration of rapes since women are ashamed and scared.
Church leaders report that villages are looted and destroyed; the displaced communities have to live in makeshifts camps, mainly populated by women and children, with very poor or none health facilities. Girls and women IDPs are sometimes raped within the camps. If they become pregnant they have to deliver in very bad conditions. The babies suffocate in poor accommodation and are exposed to various diseases such as pneumonia, malaria, cholera, fever etc. The MONUSCO report also tells how some M23 combatants last year attacked the Mugunga Camp for internally displaced people and raped at least eight women. In the camp there is an Anglican church and school which are being used as shelter. Recent reports from NGOs working on the ground also indicate that displaced communities living in Mugunga have been forced to flee again as they are caught in the crossfire near the camp.
The medical consequences for women are serious. Women can suffer dislocation of the hips, fistulas, paralysis and other disabilities. Women who are disabled cannot flee the villages and are more vulnerable to rape if their community is attacked.
The Anglican Church in Goma is implementing several programmes to support the women’s recovery. It also has a reconciliation initiative that brings couples and families back together in these broken communities.
For more information about the programmes and how to donate, click here.
Donations can also be made through The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), the relief and development arm of the Anglican Church of Canada.
For credit card donations contact:
416-924-9192 ext. 355; 1-866-308-7973
Please do not send your credit card number by email or fax.
Please make cheques payable to “PWRDF”, mark them for “Democratic
Republic of Congo” and send them to:
The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund
The Anglican Church of Canada
80 Hayden Street
Toronto, Ontario M4Y 3G2