Norway and the US are joining forces to build a hospital for the victims of sexual violence in eastern Congo. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the new Norwegian-American initiative when she visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo this week.
Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre commented: “Women in eastern Congo are in a precarious situation. Our cooperation with the US is an important contribution to strengthening the fight against sexual violence.”
Hundreds of thousands of girls and women and an increasing number of men have been the victims of brutal rape in the conflict that has ravaged Congo during the past decade. In eastern Congo, an area the size of France, there is currently only one hospital that is able to treat the most severely affected victims.
“A great number of women do not have access to medical care and are suffering from serious physical and mental traumas. The distances are vast, and roads few and poor. The US and Norway will now build a hospital so more victims can be helped,” said Foreign Minister Støre.
“When we met in March, Hillary Clinton and I agreed to step up our cooperation aimed at fighting sexual violence and promoting women’s and children’s health. Our decision to build a hospital in Congo is an example of concrete cooperation to fight sexual violence. Ms Clinton and I also agree on the need for specific measures aimed a persecuting perpetrators. At present the risk of being caught for such crimes is negligible,” the Foreign Minister added.
The UN has, in consultation with Congolese authorities and organisations, developed a strategy for fighting sexual violence. It contains extensive measures to strengthen the judiciary justice sector and improve discipline in the army. Norway is actively involved in the implementation of the strategy.