US urges DR Congo to probe attack on rape doctor

Denis Mukwege, Director of Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, gestures during a news conference in Stockholm on November 1, 2012. Photo/AFP

What you need to know:

  • Denis Mukwege was forced to flee the country after the attempt on his life late last month, and has sought refuge in Sweden.
  • Every year, the hospital's main program for the victims of sexual violence treats around 3,000 women.

Washington on Monday urged the Democratic Republic of the Congo to investigate an attack on a pioneering doctor and founder of a rape victims clinic.

Denis Mukwege was forced to flee the country after the attempt on his life late last month, and has sought refuge in Sweden.

Mukwege narrowly escaped with two of his daughters on October 25 after armed men broke into his home in Bukavu. The assailants killed an employee who intervened, giving the doctor and his family time to flee.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States was calling on the DR Congo "to investigate thoroughly the events" and expressed concern over the attack.

"Dr. Mukwege has worked tirelessly not only for the health of women in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, but also for peace in a troubled region," Nuland added in a statement.

Mukwege founded the Panzi hospital and foundation in Bukavu to help the thousands of women who have been raped in the strife-torn east of the DR Congo by members of local and foreign armed groups, as well as by army soldiers.

Every year, the hospital's main program for the victims of sexual violence treats around 3,000 women.

Mukwege told a press conference last week that he hoped to return home.

"The next step for me is to return to Congo," Mukwege said at the press conference in Stockholm organized by Swedish Pentecostal churches (PMU), which helps to finance the Panzi hospital in Bukavu in the eastern DRC.

But he criticized the government in Kinshasa and its neighbours for not doing enough to stop the violence in his country.

"Why is all this happening? Simply because there is an indifference among the human community in relation to the suffering of others," he said.

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