The top UN official advocating for women and girls impacted by sexual violence expressed deep concern over grave allegations of sexual violence targeting civilians, including children, particularly affecting internally displaced persons (IDPs) fleeing conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). These distressing incidents, some occurring in broad daylight, have significantly impacted the lives and well-being of women and girls in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.
Addressing the urgent need to protect women and girls, the official highlighted the alarming number of Gender Based Violence (GBV) cases reported by UNICEF in 2022 alone. In North Kivu, over 38,000 cases of GBV were documented, with six IDP camps serving as volatile security environments that put displaced women and girls at heightened risk.
Survivors in these camps reported attacks perpetrated by armed men and displaced individuals, prompting concerns over the lack of immediate life-saving aid. Access to critical services, including Post-Exposure Prophylaxis kits within the crucial 72-hour window after an attack, remains a challenge for many victims.
The official emphasized that immediate medical and psychosocial assistance should be coupled with protective measures that offer escape routes from violence and insecurity. It is crucial to ensure that those forced from their homes, including women and girls fleeing conflict in Masisi and Rutshuru territories, can access essential services without facing further risks of sexual violence.
The UN rights office in DRC (OHCHR) is collaborating with humanitarian partners and other UN agencies to document allegations and provide necessary support. The official urged authorities to fulfill their human rights obligations by collaborating with the UN to protect civilians fleeing conflict violence and holding perpetrators accountable through thorough investigations and prosecutions.
Furthermore, donors were called upon to support efforts in protecting victims of sexual violence in the DRC, with the official’s office ready to assist partners in providing much-needed support. Immediate action is imperative to alleviate the suffering of women and girls and bring justice to the victims of these heinous acts.
Re-Reported from the story originally published in UN News.