On the heels of last week’s concerning reports about continuing ceasefire violations and human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Congo Advocacy Coalition (CAC) released further information indicating the extent of atrocities.
Most striking were the group’s finding related to sexual violence in eastern DRC – the coalition reported more than 2,000 rape cases for the month of June alone in North Kivu province. While this number is much higher than previous reports, it still almost certainly does not convey the full extent of the problem, as sexual violence is consistently underreported due to stigma and lack of access to medical care. The report also discussed the dire humanitarian situation, reporting that malnutrition levels have reached more than 17% in certain parts of the east, and that attacks on humanitarian operations (36 recorded since January) have severely hampered efforts to deliver aid to the more than 1 million people who are internally displaced in the area.
Anneke Van Woudenberg of Human Rights Watch, which is a member of the coalition, pointed to the need to make the peace process in DRC, known as the Amani Program, “a reality, not just a nice idea.”
CAC, which is made up of 64 local international non-governmental organizations, called on all parties to honor their commitments to existing peace agreements, and made a number of specific recommendations, including the appointment of a high level independent Special Advisor on Human Rights for eastern DRC, increased donor backing for mediation efforts and DDR (disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration) programs, and efforts to include women and displaced person in the peace process. More information about the coalition and a full list of recommendations can be found here.
-Nina McMurry, Congo Education Coordinator