Fresh fighting around Goma, DRC, increases pressure on Anglican work for women affected by war

15 July 2013

It has increased pressure on the project run by the Anglican church in Goma, in the Diocese of Bukavu, to support women and girls rejected by their families after being subjected to sexual assaults and rape  –  which is being used as a weapon of war.

The Anglican clergyman who is organising the programme, sent the following report of renewed fighting: 

“Yesterday,  Sunday afternoon after Church morning services, there were lots of chaos, due to bombs that were booming around Goma. The media said that it was a fighting between M23 and DRC government army.

“This morning, the same bombs were being heard and this had led many people into fear. But at the moment, it is said that there were some captured rebels from M23 side by the national army.  We really need your prayers,” he said.

The project for women affected by sexual violence is outside the town in an insecure area. However, women are turning to the Church of help during the crisis, especially to reach medical services in the town.  Financial support is being provided to the project via mobile phone cash transfers.

The project was the subject of a recent appeal for emergency support by the Anglican Alliance.  For more information on the appeal, and how to give, please scroll to the bottom of this page.  
If you would like to know more about this appeal please contact our relief manager at: tania.nino@aco.org

More recent calls for help have come from Masisi, Minova and Rutshuru towns in the rural area. Rebel and soldiers rape women and girls as young as six years old, several men attacking the same woman and on repeated occasions.

A devastating report produced by the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (MONUSCO – OHCHR) on the human rights violations committed by the Congolese armed forces and combatants of the M23 in the North and South Kivus Provinces, highlights the violations, including rape, which according to the report was committed in a “widespread manner”.

After going through such dramatic experiences, the women suffer many other tragedies. Those who can afford to travel to Goma city to look for help in the church. They are severely traumatised and need to be tested for HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases. They are often abandoned by their husbands, usually facing their inflicted pregnancy alone. This has contributed to an under registration of rapes in the area, as women are ashamed and too scared to report them.

Church leaders inform us that villages are looted and destroyed.  Displaced communities live in makeshifts camps, mainly populated by women and children, with either none or very poor health facilities. Girls and women are also raped within the camps. If they become pregnant they have to deliver their child in very bad conditions. Babies suffocate in poor accommodation and are exposed to various diseases such as pneumonia, malaria, cholera, fever etc.

MONUSCO also report how some M23 combatants last year attacked the Mugunga Camp for internally displaced people and raped at least eight women. In the camp there is an Anglican church and school which are being used for shelter. Recent reports from NGOs working on the ground also indicate that displaced communities living in Mugunga have been forced to flee again as they are caught in the crossfire near the camp.

The medical consequences for women are serious. Women can suffer dislocation of the hips, fistulas, paralysis and other disabilities. Women who are disabled cannot flee the villages and are more vulnerable to rape if their community is attacked.

The Anglican Church in Goma is implementing several programmes to support the women’s recovery. It also has a reconciliation initiative that brings couples and families back together in these broken communities. 

Please pray and give your financial support to implement the following plan:

Objective of the response:

Our main objective is mainly found in the Gospel according to St John 10:10 meaning that we should bring hope to those who are suffering and sharing our tangible Faith to them.

Targeted area: Goma, Rutshuru, Masisi , Nyiragongo and Minova

Targeted community: Women and girls

Number of beneficiaries: we would like to assist 100 women recently raped. We need support to transport them to hospital, for the provision of medication, food and accommodation and to strengthen their self-reliance projects.

Time frame: From the time the funds are available and this is for one year

Who is responsible for implementing the response: Bukavu diocese and Goma projects Coordinator Revd Desire Mukanirwa

Proposed budget:

Account Name:     PROVINCE DE L’EGLISE ANGLICANE DU CONGOIf you would like to contribute to this appeal, please send your donations to the following account of the Province of the Anglican Church of Congo:

Bank Name:          RAWBANK

Account Number:  01000114503-41

Currency:               $US

Swift Code:            RAWBCDKI

Address:                BP 2499; KINSHASA 1

                             REPUBLIQUE DEMOCRATIQUE DU CONGO

 

The Church in Goma, Diocese of Bukavu, will provide updates about the evolution of the situation and how resources have been used to respond to this emergency. The Anglican Alliance will post the report back on this appeal.

If you would like to know more about this appeal please contact us on this email: tania.nino@aco.org

In the picture: young women affected by the conflict signing for small business loans (micro credit)