DR CONGO

On spring 2012 I was in DR Congo to do a story about the humanitarian situation in the country.

Even though the country is extremely rich in natural resources, most cities are equally poor with bad or no infrastructure, makeshift houses and most people living below the poverty line. I focused  the phenomena of child soldiers and women rapes, visiting the places where they are rescued, and the internally displaced people.

The Eastern Congo is  the rape capital of the world. It has been named the worst place on earth to be a woman. There are 48 rapes every hour, 1,252 rapes a day, over 400,000 rapes a year. To put this in perspective, 29 out of 1,000 Congolese women are raped every year. According to the women the rapes were comitted by the CNDP militia and the national army  (Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo – FARDC).

I was at  Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where women and girls in all ages arrive with considerable damage to the abdomen after violent rapes and assaults.

On July 10, 2102, the International Criminal Court’s sentencing  of Congolese rebel leader Thomas Lubanga to 14 years in prison for recruiting and using child soldiers in his rebel army in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002-03.

I was at a  Red Cross-sponsored home in the town of Bukavu in eastern D.R. Congo where the boys have all been rescued from a life in the armed groups. Some has been actively in combat as child soldier others as porter or cook for the armed groups. More than twenty armed groups operates in this eastern part of the country and many of them use (forced recruited) child soldiers.

I was  in a UN refugee camp in Kichanga, near Goma in eastern D.R.Congo. According to recent figures from the UN refugee organization UNHCR, there are currently 1.7 million Internally displaced people in the country. UNHCR provides for 72.000 people in tent camps like this one. Camps, which for many end up being more or less a permanent home, since people can not return home. Several armed militias operates actively in the area and some even inside the camps.

At the transit Camp in ADSSE, Bukavu, 171 persons currently lives here, the majority refugees from the neighbouring country Rwanda, who are to be repatriated after just three days in the camp. The camp is managed by UNHCR. The refugees receive a small financial donation and a package containing food, soap and other household items upon departure.

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