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Welby supports DRC campaign

14 February 2014


On patrol: Congolese soldiers in North Kivu, last week 

On patrol: Congolese soldiers in North Kivu, last week 

THE Archbishop of Canterbury used his visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) last week to back a new campaign by Tearfund to stop sexual violence in the country.

Archbishop Welby was joined, on Wednesday of last week, by the UK Minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds, and the Archbishop of Congo, the Most Revd Henri Isingoma, in Goma, on the eastern border of the DRC, to meet survivors of rape.

It is reported that in the DRC one woman is raped every 90 seconds.The campaign "Silent No More" is a joint initiative between Tearfund and the Anglican Church of Congo, which seeks to change the culture around sexual violence, and to help survivors.

Archbishop Welby said: "The terrible suffering of the peoples of eastern DRC is a global tragedy. Since my first visit in 2009, I have been seeking to support those locally who tackle the issue of sexual violence."

"Silent No More", which is funded by the Foreign Office, will also undertake a study into the attitudes and behaviour of men and boys in eastern DRC. It will work with local churches and faith groups toprevent sexual violence by challenging a culture of tolerance towards rape and other forms of sexual assault.

Mr Simmonds said: "We cannot succeed in stopping rape and other abuses without local people working at the heart of communities to develop a shared commitment to end this devastating crime. Faith groups are well placed to do this.

The deputy director for Tearfund in the DRC, Christine Karumba, said: "Changing men's attitudes to women, and men's understanding of what it means to be a man, is key to tackling Congo's appalling record on sexual violence."

The Archbishops and Mr Simmonds also visited the charity HEAL Africa, which provides medical treatment and counselling for victims of sexual violence.

Archbishop Isingoma said: "This is a priority issue for my Church, and for me personally. Ending the conflict in the region is also crucial, and that is why the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches of Burundi, Rwanda, and the DRC are working together in the pursuit of peace in the Great Lakes region."

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