The United Nations has signed an accord with the Democratic Republic of Congo aimed at combatting rape and sexual violence by armed militias in the strife-torn eastern region.
The accord, seen by AFP on Tuesday, was signed by DRC Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo and the UN’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura (left).
The agreement “underlines the necessity of neutralizing armed groups and initiating an effective process of reform to the security sector” particularly in the eastern regions of North and South Kivu, and Oriental province.
“As an African woman from a post-conflict country – Sierra Leone – I recognize the many challenges the Congo is currently facing,” said Bangura, a former Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy.
“Conflict-related sexual violence is among the most urgent of these, and one which requires the leadership, ownership, and responsibility of the Government of this country,” she said at a meeting in the capital, Kinshasa, with British Foreign Secretary William Hague and representatives of civil society to address the problem of impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence.
Bangura was one of four African democracy activists from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sierra Leone, Sudan and Zimbabwe to receive the NED’s 2006 Democracy Award.
“Africa has been witness to more protracted conflicts than any region of the world,” said NED’s then-chairman Vin Weber. “The individuals NED honors this year have demonstrated enormous personal courage and optimism, facing down brutal regimes and working in some of the most harrowing circumstances imaginable. If democracy continues to advance in Africa, it will be due to the dedication of activists like these.”