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Statement by UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake, on sexual violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

NEW YORK, 24 August 2010 – The reported gang-rape of at least 179 women and girls in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) must serve as an urgent call to stop the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.

Egregious violations of human rights, including rape and sexual violence, have become endemic in the DRC.  UNICEF is aware of some eighteen thousand survivors of sexual violence in DRC who sought assistance in 2009 alone, including 11,855 who required critical medical assistance.  It is highly likely that many more attacks have gone unreported.

The suffering caused by sexual violence does not end with the assault. Many survivors carry physical and psychological scars for the rest of their lives.  And sexual violence also has a profound impact on families, communities and society, reinforcing a culture of violence. 

Sexual violence is an international crime and all perpetrators must be held fully accountable.  Impunity from prosecution and punishment must end. 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has asked his Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict to follow up on these terrible reports from the DRC and to coordinate a response, including essential support and care for girls and women who have been attacked.  UNICEF supports this effort and stands ready to assist however we can.

For further information, please contact:

Rebecca Fordham, UNICEF Media, New York ,
Tel + 1 212 326 7162, 

Christopher de Bono, UNICEF Media, New York,
Tel + 1 212 303 7984, 




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