US gives $10m to fight DRC rapes

2010-10-15 17:00

Kinshasa - The US Agency for International Development (USAid) on Friday announced a $10m donation for a project to combat sexual violence in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where armed groups attack civilians.

Named "Welcome to Changes in the Community", the project "aims to promote communal solidarity" in the provinces of Nord-Kivu and Sud-Kivu and in Maniema in the east, which has been particularly affected by mass rape cases, USAid said in a statement.

The project is conceived as an integral part of a programme to provide care, access to medical treatment, security and empowerment (CASE), and it will be carried out mainly by the International Medical Corps (IMC), which is mainly active in the east of the DRC.

The overall programme, financed to the tune of $16.1m, is part of the $17m promised to the DRC in August by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the money will be used to help survivors of sexual violence.

In the east and northeast of the country, rebels, armed militias and also the regular army, the FARDC, are all accused of regularly committing atrocities against civilians, particularly women, who become rape victims.

On Thursday, the UN special envoy for sexual violence in conflict, Margot Wallstrom, accused government troops of raping and killing women in remote villages where hundreds have already been victims of violence.

According to the United Nations, at least 500 people, including children, were raped at the end of July and beginning of August by a coalition of Mai-Mai militia forces and members of the Hutu rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in 13 villages of the Walikale territory in Nord-Kivu province.