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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Report: UN Aids Women In Congo

The international charity, ActionAid, says that UN missions in battle-torn nations such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) could do much to prevent disturbing instances of violence against women. Citing its new report, ActionAid relays that mission staff, if specially trained, could provide education and oversight that would deter future tragedies.

"While the world focuses on Congo's elections, violence against women continues unchecked," says Emime Ndihokubwayo, Great Lakes Policy coordinator, ActionAid Africa. "If the world is serious about promoting peace in the nation, then it must address its growing malignancies of sex crimes and brutality."

"There are areas in the DRC where great numbers of females, including young girls, have been raped," says Edward Kakande, country director, ActionAid Congo. "Such instances shatter families, leading to a culture of revenge and bloodshed."

The ActionAid report, "MONUC...Recommendations for Change," was based on interviews with Congolese armed forces, human rights groups, community members, police forces and UN staff. In it, ActionAid recommends changes be made to the UN Mission in Congo or MONUC, that include assistance in military, police and judicial reform with the impetus of ending sexual violence against women and girls.

Such changes, the paper states, should include judicial oversight as well as the provision of UN police personnel tasked with helping local police to develop functioning sex crimes units.

"Right now, if a rapist is arrested in the DRC, he may be back home before his victim reaches her door," says Kakande. "It's because there is little oversight on law enforcement, leading to corruption and crimes committed with impunity. UN assistance would do much to change this."

The report also calls for the maintenance of current UN military troop levels to control growing instances of insecurity in the nation.

"The presence of the UN Mission in Congo is of paramount importance if we're ever to put an end to the cycle of violence," Kakande added.


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