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Cablegate: Program Update: Gender-Based Violence in the Drc


DE RUEHKI #1236/01 3041226
R 311226Z OCT 07






E.O. 12958: N/A


1. Gender-Based Violence continues to be a threat to stability and
affects the most vulnerable populations - women and children-in
Eastern Congo. Recent reports indicate the problem is worsening,
particularly in the province of North Kivu, but the problem is also
severe in South Kivu, Maniema, and the Ituri District of Orientale.
The United States, through the bilateral USAID Mission, the Office
of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), and the U.S. Department of
State, supports activities to respond to and prevent
conflict-related and domestic violence through a variety of
interventions in the Eastern Provinces and throughout the country.
End summary.

2. The continued problem of ungoverned space in Eastern DRC,
coupled with the ongoing conflict fueled by armed militias, an
undisciplined national army and other negative forces, perpetuates
the cycle of violence against women and children and poses serious
threats to efforts to protect these vulnerable populations from
sexual violence and abuse. In addition, continued population
displacement due to ongoing armed conflict puts individuals at
increased risk for abuse and threatens to undermine progress
achieved through USG-supported interventions. In an environment
where rape is used as a weapon against local populations by illegal
armed groups, and an absence of the rule of law that permits the
Congolese army and police to act with impunity, women and children
continue to be the most vulnerable.

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3. All age groups are affected by GBV, with the youngest recorded
victim at six months old and the oldest at 92. USAID estimates that
a minimum of 80,000-100,000 rapes and/or mutilations have taken
place in DRC since 1996. GBV has a severe and negative impact on
Congolese society. Victims experience shame and humiliation,
rejection by family members, malnutrition, medical complications
such as HIV, STIs, and vaginal and/or anal fistulas, psychological
problems, and negative economic consequences. As perpetrators
continue to go unpunished, the existing culture of impunity is

4. The United States has supported efforts to respond to GBV in the
DRC through a variety of mechanisms. USG interventions have
included providing care and treatment for GBV survivors,
strengthening the justice sector's capacity to address acts of GBV,
and advancing the protection of vulnerable populations, particularly
women and children.


5. Since 2002, with the use of USAID/DRC Development Assistance
(DA) funding, as well as resources provided under the Displaced
Children and Orphan's Fund (DCOF), the Victims of Torture Fund
(VOT), Trafficking in Persons (TIP) funding, and the fistula
earmark, USAID has supported interventions to respond to
Gender-Based Violence through care and treatment for survivors and
awareness and prevention activities. USAID-supported programs aim
to address the immediate, medium, and longer-term consequences of
sexual violence for victims, their families, and communities so that
victims of sexual violence are able to recover from trauma and
reintegrate into their families and communities. Outreach and
community mobilization activities, including legal advocacy, aim to
prevent new acts of Gender-Based Violence in targeted areas. To
date, USAID has allocated more than $10,000,000 for GBV activities
in Eastern DRC.


6. International Rescue Committee (IRC) ($4,868,096 from June 20,
2002 through March 31, FY 2008) provides local partners in North
Kivu, South Kivu, and Katanga Provinces the necessary training and
skills to provide direct services (medical care, psychosocial
support, socio-economic reintegration, and legal referral when
desired) to GBV survivors. IRC also provides support to Doctors on
Call for Service (DOCS)(Goma, North Kivu) and Panzi (Bukavu, South
Kivu) Hospitals, where more than 100 women receive fistula repair
and other health services each month.

7. Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI) ($4,324,684 from September
30, 2004 to September 30, FY 2008) supports psychosocial
rehabilitation and reintegration of survivors of sexual and
gender-based violence in Ituri District of Orientale Province and
Maniema Province. Working with a primary local NGO, Centre
d'Intervention Psychosociale (CIP), COOPI has developed "Healing
Centers" that work to respond to sexual and gender-based violence
through confidential identification of victims, medical and legal
referrals, socio-economic recovery, and community awareness

8. UNICEF ($518,000 in FY 2006) provides assistance to and helps
ensure the safe reintegration of abducted girls and boys and other
GBV survivors to their communities in Ituri District or Orientale
Province and works to prevent further abduction, trafficking, and
sexual violence.

9. Global Rights ($1,819,000 from October 1, 2004 to September 30,
2007) was instrumental in the adoption and implementation of
priority improvements to the DRC's legal framework, including the
national Law against Sexual Violence, passed in August 2006. Global
Rights also conducted public advocacy campaigns and awareness
raising around the new law, as well as provided technical assistance
to NGOs in Eastern Congo and throughout the country that are
implementing legal assistance activities for GBV victims.


10. All OFDA funded health projects in Eastern Congo have GBV
components. OFDA currently has three active health projects: two in
North Kivu with the NGO International Medical Corps and one in South
Kivu with the NGO GOAL. OFDA anticipates two additional health
projects in North Kivu in the near future that will also include GBV


11. In FY 2007, the State Department, through the Bureau for
Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), supported the Center for
Victims of Torture, which trains counselors and provides counseling
support to refugees, including GBV survivors, in Katanga Province.

12. The State Department has identified support to the military
justice sector as one key factor critical to eliminating the culture
of impunity, particularly in relation to human rights violations and
GBV. In FY 2008 the Department, in collaboration with the Defense
Institute of International Legal Studies (DIILS), will support an
initial series of 12 one-week training seminars aimed at members of
the military justice sector (military magistrates, military
prosecutors, judicial police, and defense counsel). The planned
topic of the first series is Sex Crime Investigation and
Prosecution. Additional training and material support projects will
be implemented as funds become available.

13. In FY 2008, the State Department, through the Bureau for
Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), is supporting two 12-month
grants to the American Bar Association ($555,000) and the Carter
Center ($425,000) which will focus on addressing GBV and impunity
through justice sector and civil society support, including legal
aid to GBV victims, human rights training for judges and police, NGO
capacity building, and public debate around GBV and human rights.
DRL is additionally providing a three-year grant to Journalists for
Human Rights (JHR) ($837,718), which will promote rule of law by
building the capacity of national media to report accurately on
human rights issues and creating a network of human rights reporters
across the country.

14. The State Department, through the Embassy's Democracy and Human
Rights Fund, also provides small grants on an annual basis to local
organizations in Eastern Congo that provide services to survivors of
GBV through identification of victims, income-generating activities,
and judicial support. As an example, a recent grant, signed on
October 23, will fund a project to "name and shame" hotel owners in
Bukavu who facilitate child prostitution on their premises. Another
2007 grant will provide assistance to victims and support
prosecution of offenders in Bunia, Ituri District.


15. To date, through USAID-supported programs, more than 40,000 GBV
survivors have received medical care, and thousands more have
received other critical services, including counseling, family
medication, socio-economic assistance, and legal referral when
appropriate. USAID assistance resulted in the successful adoption of
the national Law Against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in August
2006. In FY 2007 alone, more than 800,000 individuals in Ituri
District and Maniema Province participated in GBV community
awareness activities, and many thousands more have been reached in
North and South Kivu through the activities supported by IRC and
other partners.

16. Post is developing an updated Social Protection strategy that
integrates the efforts of USAID, Department of State, and other USG
agencies. The strategy will serve as the basis for future program
development of new activities to respond to and prevent Gender-Based
Violence. GBV continues to be a high priority issue for Embassy
Kinshasa, and the current instability in North Kivu points to the
need for additional assistance in this area. As additional
resources become available post is prepared to respond quickly to
address additional immediate and long-term needs, such as expanding
the reach of care and treatment programs, increasing public
awareness and prevention efforts, and building on previous successes
in legal reform and advocacy.


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