Rape clinic doctor returns to DRC

2013-01-14 20:40
Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege, founder of a pioneering rape victims clinic in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Kenzo Tribouillard, AFP)

Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege, founder of a pioneering rape victims clinic in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Kenzo Tribouillard, AFP)

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Bukavu - Pioneering doctor Denis Mukwege, who founded a clinic for rape victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo, returned home on Monday after being forced into exile following an attempt on his life.

Thousands of residents from Mukwege's eastern city of Bukavu went to the airport to welcome back the award-winning gynaecologist, who narrowly escaped the 25 October attack.

A group of soldiers and policemen provided by the UN peacekeeping mission Monusco then escorted him home, mission spokesperson Madnodje Mounoubai told AFP.

After fleeing with his family when a group of armed men broke into his home in Bukavu and killed an employee, he sought refuge first in Sweden and then in Belgium.

But he decided to return to the strife-torn east of the DRC "after getting more and more information saying there is a big demand from the sick and that women are calling for his return," the Panzi hospital he founded said in a statement on Friday.

Mukwege set up the hospital and associated foundation to help thousands of women who have been raped in the country's unstable east by members of local and foreign armed groups, as well as by soldiers in the army.

Every year, the hospital's main programme for victims of sexual violence takes in around 3 000 women.

The doctor's work has earned him numerous nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. He has also been honoured with an award from the United Nations for his human rights activities.

Police are still investigating the attack by unidentified gunmen.

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