continuing congo coverage
Anneke Van Woudenberg is the Senior Researcher for Congo for Human Rights Watch. For my money, she knows more about what goes on in the country than any other Westerner (and than most Congolese citizens). Van Woudenberg gave an interview to NPR yesterday in which she very eloquently explained the rape crisis and how U.S. support for the misguided Kimia II military operation has led to a doubling or tripling of incidents of rape this year:
"Well, one of the things that have worried us at Human Rights Watch is that there is increasing amounts of aid money going into helping the victims of sexual violence. That's good, and these are people who definitely need assistance. But we also think a lot more money needs to go into stopping rape.
"You know, I was really struck by this, my last visit to eastern Congo, that not only has rape continued, the fact is that rape has doubled or tripled since January. And I think much more of the money needs to go to stopping rape. That means ensuring that there's justice. It means better protection mechanisms for women and girls. We shouldn't just be helping the victims. We need to ensure that there are less victims in the future."
If you're at all interested in these issues, you don't want to miss her comments.
"It is almost impossible to describe the level of suffering and despair, in the camp, particularly. I've been in camps, (inaudible). It is just tragic, to see 10,000 people in that space. And still, you know, children are still, you know, dying of malnutrition, they're dying of diarrhea, they're dying of malaria, the women are getting raped, they (inaudible) the confines of the camp. It's just horrific."Jezebel.com's Anna N. notes the irony regarding the fact that while all this human suffering continues unabated, media reports on the trip have mostly focused on Clinton's comments about her husband's opinion and her hair (as if anyone has a good hair day in Kinshasa's humidity):
"It's Clinton's responsibility to be an effective voice for the Congolese people, not just a purveyor of empty American outrage. But the press could help her, by focusing on the actuall issues at hand."Finally, McClatchy Newspapers correspondant Shashank Bengali takes issue with my reaction to the Camcorders for Congo program announced by Clinton during her visit yesterday. He makes some excellent points - and I definitely agree it's far from the worst idea the U.S. has ever had about ways to assist Africa - but I still think that most Congolese rape victims would rather have food for their malnourished children and mattresses to sleep on than video cameras containing coltan. If anyone can find details about this program, please let me know.