For Immediate Release
DRC: Civilians Increasingly Targeted by Violence and Insecurity in East
The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without
Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has provided specialized care to
53 women, men, and children who were raped in a series of incidents that
occurred between January 19 and 21 in South Kivu Province in the east
of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Most of the rape survivors MSF treated yesterday said they were
ambushed on January 19 around the village of Nakatete, as they returned
from market. They told MSF they had been held hostage throughout the
day, raped multiple times, and subjected to further degrading treatment.
Patients ranged in age from 13 to 60. Women and girls had been
separated from men and their clothes and belongings were stolen.
Eleven women treated by MSF yesterday said they were ambushed on
January 20 in the village of Kitumba while on their way back from a
market, and were robbed and raped by a group of armed men. MSF also
treated two women and a man who were similarly attacked in the same
location the next day.
These new incidents of large scale rape come a few weeks after a mass rape on New Year’s Day in the Fizi region of South Kivu.
“In the space of a few weeks alone, MSF has provided medical treatment
for nearly 100 women, men, and children—all of whom have been raped in
mass attacks,” said Annemarie Loof, MSF head of mission in South Kivu.
“We are extremely concerned about the fate of civilians in this
area—normal people who have nothing to do with the conflict and who bear
the brunt of a recent increase in violence and insecurity in this part
of eastern DRC.”
For years, civilians in eastern DRC have suffered sexual violence
related to ongoing conflict. But MSF has not provided medical treatment
for rape on this scale in South Kivu since 2004. In an already volatile
context, MSF is witnessing a further deterioration of the situation,
which is directly impacting the civilian population.
MSF has provided medical care to the people attacked, treating wounds
and providing preventative treatment for possible sexually transmitted
infections. The survivors were also vaccinated against Hepatitis B and
tetanus. Girls and women examined in time were offered morning-after
pills to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
In South Kivu, MSF provides emergency health care to a population suffering from violence, sexual violence,
displacement, malaria, malnutrition, and disease outbreaks such as
cholera and measles. In 2010, MSF medical teams in the Fizi region
treated 20,000 malaria patients, gave 65,000 medical consultations,
cared for 10,000 inpatients at Baraka hospital and helped to deliver
Throughout the Kivus, MSF runs hospitals, mobile clinics, health
centers, vaccination campaigns and cholera programs, and provides
treatment and psychosocial care to survivors of sexual violence. In 2009
alone, MSF provided medical and psychosocial care for 5,600 rape
victims in North and South Kivu.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971. MSF's work is based on the humanitarian principles of medical ethics and impartiality. The organization is committed to bringing quality medical care to people caught in crisis regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation.
MSF operates independently of any political, military, or religious agendas.