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Hope for the future

ДР Конго
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Дата публикации

SCIAF’s Programme Officer Percy Patrick explains how the agency is addressing the holistic needs of sexual violence survivors in the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

Continued support is vital for their recovery from a devastatingly traumatic experience. However, it is essential that help is directed at rebuilding their shattered family, economic and community structures.

Health, dignity and hope have been restored for many sexual and domestic violence survivors in eastern DR Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Burundi through a number of means:

  • Medical care,
  • Trauma counselling,
  • Legal support,
  • Opportunities to develop an income,
  • Support to reintegrate into family and community life.

Working with the Scottish aid agency SCIAF, the European Union and the Overseas Aid Committee of the Isle of Man Government has provided an opportunity for these survivors to recover with security and support.

Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) has been highly prevalent and widespread in the Great Lakes Region of Africa with many violent examples. The war has officially ended in this region, but there are indications that SGBV has increased steadily over the past five years, affecting more civilians than armed groups. In some areas it has been estimated that 70% of women have been subject to rape and sexual violence.

The one year project completed in March 2011 was carried out by SCIAF’s 6 local implementing partners in South Kivu Province in the DRC, Bubanza Province in Burundi and Rwanda. The following results were achieved:

  • Twelve Listening Centres offered a safe, discrete, non-discriminatory place for 5,371 survivors to receive trauma counselling and get the support they needed, including referrals to health and legal services.

  • 15 Congolese doctors from 14 general hospitals also received training in reconstructive fistula and complicated gynaecological surgery which has drastically reduced cost, travel and, waiting times for the affected women.

  • 4,196 survivors received HIV, STI and pregnancy testing and medical assistance, including 415 surgical interventions and prenatal care for 502 women.

  • 580 women were helped to regain their livelihoods through training and economic support and, substantial efforts were made through mediation and counselling to tackle the stigma that is associated with SGBV.

  • 5,369 women were able to reintegrate into their families and communities.

  • 4,171 women and 435 children are covered under health insurance schemes in the DRC and Rwanda so that they can access general healthcare and psychosocial support from health centres and hospitals.

  • The legal impunity that has been enjoyed by perpetrators of SGBV has been challenged. 239 women were able to pursue legal justice through access to free legal advice and assistance to pursue court cases.

  • 101 offenders received prison sentences from 5 to 20 years. 93 court cases are still pending in court.

  • The project supported 91 children born of rape to secure legal paternity and birth certificates. This means that they have Congolese citizenship and can access education and health services among other things.

  • 447 children received healthcare support including immunization. It has reduced and prevented unnecessary maternal and child deaths and reduced under-nutrition.

  • 470 children received school fees, school uniform, shoes, school bag and books which enabled them to enrol and continue primary schooling.

  • 18 magistrates, 14,774 community leaders and local government officials, 277 army and police commanders and 60 Catholic priests were trained in human rights and national laws on SGBV in three countries.

The ongoing conflict in the Great Lakes Region continues to bring untold suffering to many thousands of women and children. The SCIAF work supported by the European Union and the overseas Aid Committee of Isle of Man Government has helped to reduce the pain and suffering of many thousands of innocent people but the scale of the crisis means there is an urgent need for the continued prevention and response programme.