Kinshasa, 11 August 2022 (TDI): The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with civil society leaders from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Fred Bauma; a Pan African activist, Dr. Denis Mukwege; president of Panzi foundation, and Julienne Lusenge; Director of the Fund for Congolese Women attended the meeting.

Dr. Denis Mukwege has been regarded as the guardian angel of the unheard. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for his global efforts to end the use of rape as a weapon of war.

Dr. Mukwege founded Panzi Hospital and Foundation and has become one of the world’s leading specialists in treating survivors of wartime sexual violence.

Agenda of the meeting

Secretary Blinken acknowledged the efforts of these civil society leaders in combating gender-based violence in conflict zones.

Also read: US State Secretary meets Congolese Counterpart

The ongoing situation in the region of Eastern Congo alternatively known as Kinshasa was also discussed. Kinshasa is a volatile country dealing with the horrors of war, crime, and human rights abuses.

Conflict in Eastern Congo

The Kivu conflict has created chaos and disorder in the Eastern Congo region. Violent encounters among military and militia groups i.e. the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo and M23 respectively have caused major destruction.

In the escalation of conventional conflict, humanitarian abuse and gender-based violence have also emerged.

According to the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, widespread sexual assault has been perpetrated against women in this region by both parties of the conflict.

Incidents involving rape and sexual assault of both women and girls, including forcing girls as sex slaves into the militia, are very common.

Under such circumstances, the great work of civil society activists and leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo is worth appreciating.

People like Julienne Lusenge have been struggling to deal with aggression against women in conflict areas. She continues to raise her voice for women’s rights in DRC.

To encourage this work the US State Secretary held this meeting and greatly appreciated these activists.