The crisis in the eastern DRC is the
reason behind a visit to the country by Cindy McCain, wife of US Senator John
McCain, the former presidential candidate. From
Goma, Mrs. McCain spoke to VOA about why the Congolese humanitarian crisis is important to her.
first visit here was in 1994 during the (Rwandan) genocide. I'm been doing
relief work…since the early 80's. And through the course of coming back to
Africa and doing the work that I do through other organizations…it became very
necessary. And I've been urged from many different avenues to come to Congo and
take a look to see exactly what's going on," she says.
trip is sponsored by the UN World Food Program and other organizations.
compare it from 1994 till now is very educational and it's also very sad," she
what differences she sees upon her return to the DRC, McCain says, "Not much,
to be honest with you. It's still a country that has no infrastructure. It
can't feed its population. It's unable to produce a living and give…young
people particularly, an opportunity. And so, I don't see any differences from
what I saw in 1994, and I'm sorry to say that, other than the production of
cell phone towers."
adds, though, "This is a wonderful country and could be a prosperous country,
given a government that was strong and working for its people."
McCain met Friday with a number of women who've been raped or otherwise sexually
assault by members of armed groups.
just left a group of women that I sat down with in one of the IDP (internally
displaced persons) camps here. And…just sit and listen to not only what their
problems were, but just where they needed to go and where they wanted to go,
quite frankly. And many of these women don't understand that they have rights.
More importantly, the inability of their own government to protect them so they
can go and collect firewood and protect their own children is terrible. It's
almost a societal thing…it's devastating. I'm almost surprised to see a group
of women still very determined to raise their children and keep their families
together even under such gruesome circumstances," she says.
says she plans to meet with the media upon her return to the United States at
the end of the month to describe the conditions she found in the DRC.
"It's raising awareness and making
sure that we don't let people forget about the DRC and about what's going on
here because this is an ongoing conflict," she says.