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More Help Needed For DRC Sexual Violence Victims

Women and girls in eastern Congo’s North Kivu Province are once again suffering increased levels of sexual violence amid renewed conflict and widespread displacement of civilians.

A team from the International Rescue Committee recently conducted an assessment of conditions in Kibati Camp, north of Goma, where roughly 55 thousand people have settled.

Sarah Spencer, the Emergency Gender-based Violence Coordinator of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) told VOA’s Akwei Thompson sexual violence is widespread in parts of North Kivu, describing the situation as being endemic, “particularly since the recent escalation in conflict and the recent crashes between various armed groups in combats all over the province.”

Spencer said the violence is not confined to the conflict affected areas and areas of heavy fighting, but also while they’re living in displaced camps.

The IRC coordinator said the atrocities are committed by all parties of the conflict. “We have been seeing an increase of civilians perpetrating sexual violence as well.”

Spencer said the three-day assessment found that ”while there were a number of notable services underway in Kibati the population exceeds the services available. More help will be needed, now and in the long-term, to address the psychological and physical needs of survivors of sexual violence, she added.