Like Sudan, Congo Warrants International Attention

All eyes will be properly set on South Sudan in the coming days as voters in the South participate in a referendum that will likely mean the succession of Christian/traditional South Sudan from the Muslim North (Here's a recent editorial). An alert from Médecins Sans Frontières passed along by our friends at Caritas Internationalis reminds us, however, that the Sudan is not the only nation in Africa were international focus must be maintained. Rape has long been an act of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (see this report); sadly the dispatch below describes a horrific but still too common event in the DRC:



South Kivu, DRC/New York, January 6, 2011 -- The international medical humanitarian organization, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has provided specialized care to 33 women raped on New Year’s Day in Fizi, South Kivu, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The women were raped on the night of January 1 in Fizi town and surroundings in a coordinated attack. MSF medical teams treated 14 women at the hospital in Fizi on January 3, and 19 women the next day. In addition, two severely wounded people were transferred to Baraka Hospital, one with serious head injuries after being beaten with a rock, the other with gunshot wounds in the chest.

“Women had been restrained with ropes or beaten unconscious with the butt of a gun before being attacked, some in front of their children,” said Annemarie Loof, MSF head of mission in South Kivu. “Up to four armed men were involved at a time and homes and shops were looted.”

MSF provides specialized medical care to women and girls who have been raped, including post-exposure prophylaxis, treatment that protects women from contracting the HIV virus and other sexually transmitted infections. Many women are afraid to seek treatment because of fear of being stigmatized by their families or further harassed by armed groups.

“MSF is extremely concerned about the current situation in and around Fizi,” Loof said. “People are fleeing the area fearing further violent attacks.” In 2009 alone, MSF provided medical and psychosocial care for 5,600 rape victims in North and South Kivu.



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7 years 6 months ago
For "America" readers, who want to learn more about what the Catholic Church is doing in the Congo, I'd suggest hooking up with Catholic Relief Services (the American arm of Caritas).   I frequently receive online news items from CRS about their work in the Congo and throughout the world.  It is impressive.

I'd also suggest that one of the reasons that the public is uninformed has to do with a mineral, coltan which is found in abundance in the Congo and is widely used in electronics.  The Congolese bishops warned that: "each Western cell phone may have a drop of Congolese blood".  According to CRS a grassroots group of advocates is trying to work with the electronics industry.  These people come from churches and schools.  They are dealing, of course, with a massive, powerful industry.  So, a mineral named coltan has enormous economic/politcal/social repercussions.  And why is the American media not doing more to educate the public??
7 years 6 months ago
If you asked yourself which war created the most deaths since WWII, what would you answer?  Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan.  No, it has happened in the last 10 years and in the Congo.  Didn't know that?  I wonder why?

If you go to Wikipedia on their page which lists deaths in wars in the history of man kind

and if you go down to the one listed 10th of all time you will find the Congo from 1998-2003 ending just seven years ago. The minimum estimated killed was 3.8 million and the maximum estimated killed was 5.4 million.  Now you would think that the 10th greatest war of all time in terms of deaths would get some headlines.  Any guesses why?
7 years 6 months ago
Mr. Cosgrove asks us a very disturbing question.  Why is it that the horrific tragedies occuring in the Congo, even now, are not known by the public?  The agony of life in the Congo for women was brought home to me by a powerful play, "Ruined" by Lynn Nottage.  The play won the Pulitzer for Drama in 2009.  Ms. Nottage illustrates the enormous cruelties perpetrated on women and also their endurance .  It is heart-wrenching to watch and a good education for the unknowing  among us.  Check out Wikipedia....Ruined (plsy)
Bill Mazzella
7 years 6 months ago

'Why is it that the horrific tragedies occuring in the Congo, even now, are not known by the public?"

The answer is the bishops are so focused on abortion, homosexuality and heresy that they have no time to free the captives. Vatican and episcopal leadership is so enmeshes in politics and empire that the central theme of the coming of Jesus, empowering the poor, is completely ignored.


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