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Angelina Jolie Visits CARE Project Addressing Gender-Based Violence in the DRC

"Many have survived sexual violence on their long journey to safety  a week by foot, through fields and forest, which was anything but safe. It is a grim situation."

GOMA, Congo, The Dem. Rep. of (March 26, 2013) – Yesterday, CARE hosted UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie and British Foreign Secretary William Hauge as they visited a CARE-supported sexual- and gender-based violence (SGBV) project in the Lac Vert Internally Displaced People’s camp, on the outskirts of Goma, North Kivu.

Hague said that he came to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to understand better the needs of survivors of sexual violence in advance of the coming G8 meeting in London, when, for the first time in the G8’s history, foreign ministers will hold high-level discussions on the topic of gender-based violence.

“Both Hague and Jolie were very interested in finding out about the current situation in the camp, and what the sexual violence survivors needed the most,” said Yawo Douvon, CARE’s country director in the DRC. “CARE hopes that this visit will shed more light on the issues women are facing in DRC every day. Sexual- and gender-based violence continues to be a major concern for CARE, especially with the volatile situation that persists in North Kivu, eastern DRC.”

“We are still seeing people arriving every day in camps such Lac Vert after having fled the recent eruption of violence in Kitchanga, which displaced nearly 100,000 people this month,” Douvon explained. “Many of them are women with children. Many have survived sexual violence on their long journey to safety a week by foot, through fields and forest, which was anything but safe. It is a grim situation.”

CARE works in three camps on the outskirts of Goma, including Lac Vert, training educators to offer support and advice to sexual violence survivors on how and where to access medical care. The educators also provide advice on measures that can be taken to avoid attacks and work with women and men to address attitudes and traditions that make women and girls, in particular, vulnerable to such violence.

CARE also provides financial support to sexual violence survivors and other vulnerable groups so that they can start businesses such as selling cooked food or goods in the camp. This initiative not only helps them regain a sense of normality and dignity but also prevents them from being exposed to further sexual violence.

On March 17, CARE provided 186 cash transfers to sexual violence survivors and other vulnerable people in Lac Vert camp.

“Jolie said she was impressed by how important the cash transfers were to the women she spoke to and how, despite the many difficulties they are struggling with it, this seems to have brought them hope,” said Douvon. “But there is a great need for more and better emergency medical care to tend to sexual violence survivors’ needs, especially post-exposure prophylaxis. They are also in urgent need of shelter, and access to water and sanitation. It is important that we put the survivors first, and we tend to their immediate medical and psychosocial needs above all.”

Hague and Jolie’s visit comes less than three weeks before the issue of sexual violence against women gets attention at the G8 meeting of foreign ministers in London. Hague has said he will promote an international protocol at the April 11 meeting to end impunity for rape and other sexual assaults.

In addition, CARE has prioritized the issue of gender-based violence in our policy and advocacy efforts. Earlier this month, the issue came into the spotlight at the 2013 CARE Conference & International Women’s Day Celebration in Washington D.C. More than 300 advocates and partners gathered to urge the U.S. government to continue their support behind programs that address gender-based violence.

Learn more about CARE’s work helping communities bring an end to the pervasive, and often deadly, scourge of violence against women >

Media Contacts:

Washington, D.C.: Stephanie Chen, CARE, schen@care.org, +1.202.595.2824, +1.404.819.6638
Atlanta: Brian Feagans, CARE, bfeagans@care.org, +1.404.979.9453, +1.404.457.4644


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