A mass rape victim and her son in the town of Fizi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011. Her identity has been concealed for security reasons and because rape carries strong social stigma. She was among nearly fifty women who were raped during a campaign by Congolese soldiers that took place on the night of January 1st 2011. Mass rape has long been used as a weapon of war in eastern DRC. (AP Photo/Pete Muller)
IRELAND HAS ANNOUNCED €3.8 million in funding for UN agencies and NGOs to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello said the funding will provide emergency food, water, healthcare and protection to millions of people affected by the conflict – which has already killed millions of men, women and children.
Costello highlighted the scale of the of the brutal conflict, describing it as one of “the world’s deadliest since the Second World War”. Since 1998, seven million people have died in DR Congo as a result of the conflict.
The war has also seen the forced recruitment of children into armed groups continue in large areas of the eastern Congo.
“The latest bout of fighting between the M23 rebel group and the Congolese army has increased the pressure on an extremely vulnerable population,” Costello said today. “The UN estimates that about 2.7 million people in DRC have been forced to flee their homes.
‘Blighted by one of the highest levels of sexual violence in the world’
The minister also noted the appalling levels of sexual violence endemic in the country. “On International Women’s Day it is important to highlight that DRC is blighted by one of the highest levels of sexual violence in the world. This is one of the worst places in the globe to be born a woman,” he said.
Costello today allocated €2 million to a UN-managed fund that will enable aid organisations to reach nearly four million people with food, water, shelter, healthcare and education over the course of this year. The remaining €1.8 million will be provided to NGO partners Christian Aid (€450,000), Concern (€450,000), Trócaire (€300,000) and Oxfam (€580,000) to assist them in providing emergency food, water, health and protection to the most vulnerable people.
Costello noted progress in efforts to find a solution to the crisis and welcomed the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement for the DRC and the Region signed in Ethiopia last month – an agreement reached by the Government of the DRC and 10 neighbouring and regional countries.
However, he said more work was still to be done.
“Over the course of our EU Presidency, Ireland will shine a light on the terrible abuses taking place in DRC and the enormous needs of the people, who have endured unimaginable suffering and loss of life for many years. We will continue to advocate for all those vulnerable populations caught up in long-running conflicts, which are too often forgotten.”