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CRS Expert on Sexual Violence Urges Increased Commitment in the Democratic Republic of Congo

While acknowledging certain positive steps by the U.S. government in the DRC, Vigaud-Walsh feels that it must do more to eradicate sexual and gender-based violence, ensure the protection of women and girls and all civilians, and to end the conflict.

 
PRLog - March 8, 2011 - BALTIMORE -- Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) expert on sexual and gender-based violence, Francisca Vigaud-Walsh, will testify before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights on Tuesday, March 8, 2011, at 1p.m at the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing, The Democratic Republic of the Congo: Securing Peace in the Midst of Tragedy, takes place as rape continues to be used as a weapon of war in eastern DRC in a conflict that has by some estimates killed more than 3 million people since 1998.

Vigaud-Walsh oversees and coordinates CRS’ work in the area of sexual and gender-based violence, and has made numerous trips to the DRC over the past three years. While acknowledging certain positive steps by the U.S. government in the DRC, Vigaud-Walsh feels that it must do more to eradicate sexual and gender-based violence, ensure the protection of women and girls and all civilians, and to end the conflict.

“If the Democratic Republic of the Congo is to have a future, the hundreds of thousands of women who have been raped must get the care they need and further violence must be prevented,” Vigaud-Walsh said. “Even within the context of scarce resources, there are cost-effective measures that the U.S. government can implement to reduce the scourge of sexual violence in the DRC and respond to the context of insecurity, conflict and poor governance that promote rape and violence as a weapon of war against the people of eastern Congo.”

Other panelists include actor and advocate Ben Affleck, John Prendergast of the Enough Project, Donald Y. Yamamoto, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of African Affairs, U.S. Department of State, and Rajakumari Jandhyala, Deputy Assistant Administrator at the Bureau for Africa, U.S. Agency for International Development.

CRS has been present in the DRC since 1961 working in partnership with the local Church in a range of sectors including education, health, HIV/AIDS, agriculture, peacebuilding, governance, and sexual and gender-based violence, as well as regularly responding to humanitarian emergencies particularly in North Kivu province.

“CRS, along with the Catholic Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is on the front lines of the fight against sexual and gender-based violence,” Vigaud-Walsh said. “We offer care and counseling to the survivors while at the same time working to prevent these horrific crimes.”

CRS currently has projects in all ten provinces of the DRC, including recent interventions in Province Orientale to assist those suffering at the hands of the Lord’s Resistance Army. CRS has offices in Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Bukavu and Goma, and currently employs more than 130 national staff and 13 international staff in-country.

   
Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. For more information, please visit http://www.crs.org or http://www.crsespanol.org.

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Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. We provide assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality.

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