United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited International Medical Corps operations in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Tuesday, a region devastated by more than a decade of conflict and displacement, and pledged an additional $17 million in support for victims of sexual and gender-based violence, and $3 million to form a female police force.
“We believe there should be no impunity for the sexual and gender-based violence committed by so many,” she said during a press conference following a meeting with DRC President Joseph Kabila. Later, while touring Mugunga I displacement camp outside Goma, Clinton met with International Medical Corps staff, who explained that many women in the area are raped while walking great distances to collect firewood and water for their families. Clinton asked what more can be done to protect the women.
After her visit to the camp, Clinton met with approximately 100 members of the international community, including International Medical Corps, representatives of the United Nations, the U.S. Ambassador to DRC, and other NGOs, where she pledged the additional funds.
“The Secretary wanted to know if the money we were receiving from the American Government was enough,” says International Medical Corps Country Director for DRC Giorgio Trombatore. “While we are able to do good work with U.S. support, the situation can be difficult and more resources are needed.”
Eastern DRC sees some of the most horrific cases of sexual and gender-based violence in the world. In Mugunga Camp, whose population nears 19,000, International Medical Corps provides medical care and nutrition services to 100 percent of the camp’s population, in addition to the host community in Mugunga village. International Medical Corps also offers comprehensive care for rape survivors, including primary health care and counseling to heal the physical and emotional wounds, as well as long-term services aimed at helping survivors generate income.
Another serious problem resulting from the ongoing conflict is malnutrition, especially for children under age five. Clinton was moved by the case of one 4-year-old boy being treated by International Medical Corps who was severely malnourished when he arrived at the clinic three weeks earlier and is now on his way to recovery. International Medical Corps has a 95 percent recovery rate for children who are malnourished, including those who are severely malnourished.
International Medical Corps has been operating in DRC since the mid-90’s, serving nearly two million Congolese, including refugees and internally displaced persons. International Medical Corps supports and operates 75 health facilities throughout the most volatile and dangerous areas of eastern DRC, including North Kivu, South Kivu, and Maniema provinces.