Thursday, December 11, 2008

UN Honoree Assails World's Indifference

From Reuters:

Denis Mukwege, the Congolese doctor who runs Panzi hospital for abused women and children in eastern Congo, says the youngest rape victim he has treated was just three years old.

After being honored with a U.N. human rights prize in New York Wednesday, Mukwege said the world should do more to end the conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo that has killed and displaced millions of people over a decade.

"The crisis that is happening in Congo is treated with with unimaginable hypocrisy," Mukwege told Reuters in an interview in French after the awards ceremony.

"Everyone knows. More than 5 million dead, and everybody knows. Reports say 50,000 to 60,000 women raped every year."

Mukwege said rape was used both as a weapon of war by individual soldiers and a "strategy of war" by groups determined to destroy communities and drive people from their land. "It is done with an element of spectacle, in public, in front of everyone -- with humiliation," Mukwege said.

Mukwege said the international community should address the root cause of the conflict, a struggle for natural resources.

"If the international community put pressure on the actors of the war in the Great Lakes region, it could stop immediately," Mukwege said. "It's not a civil war, it's not an ideological war, it's more an economic war."

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