The situation of a Refugee young girl victim of rape by rebels in North Kivu D.R.Congo. We know that we have we have not yet done enough to ensure that you are safe, but please forgive us sisters.
“When I feed the hungry, they call me Good Samaritan, when I ask why the people are hungry, they call me a Communist”
While the world seems to deliberately choose silence towards these refugees, we have decided to raise up our voices, to tell each one that regardless of reasons and logic there is no argument that can justify our indifference towards these refugees. Here on ground, some voices are telling how silence is better for the protection of refugees, but no one has told us yet the price refugees have paid for that silence.
But at the end of it all, we are wondering what is happening to the conscience and reason of humankind. While a big number of refugees estimated at 700,000 are forced to remain unknown in North Kivu, we are being presented a number of 550,000 refugees essentially from Central African Republic as the statistics of refugees in the country, and in order to brainwash our minds, most our attention is moved towards Internally Displace Persons in D.R.Congo and all this at the cost of the lives of thousands of refugees in eastern D.R.Congo. Refugees in North Kivu have no access to humanitarian relief aid and have no settlement where to stay. This is one among the causes which expose refugee women to all kinds of sexual abuses, unfortunately again these abuses are deliberately not documented.
This raises questions on the strategic orientation of some organizations, the politics and brains behind the decisions that deliberate on the key priorities.
The story of Anita when she was raped
The name of Anita is not her true name, we changed it because of security reasons, and the rebel group is not also named because of security reasons. Anita is not the only one refugee victim of rape we talked to, but her story seemed unique for us, her age, and what led to her situation, she sacrificed her life in her efforts to save her siblings from hunger.
On that fateful evening a certain day in 2019, as I came from the garden to collect food, the rebels raped me and infected me with HIV AIDs. Anita which is not her real name, was born in 2005, (she does not know the date she was born, but she knows she is 16 years old now) in Masisi, North Kivu, eastern D.R.Congo, her parents are both refugees registered by UNHCR who ran away from Rwanda during the genocide in 1994, when they were also young people. Anita is the sixth in a family of seven children, her and all of her siblings have never been to school and both her parents have never been to school.
A day before, they slept hungry because they did not have food, in the morning she decided to wake up and move to the gardens far from home to collect some food so that her, the parents and her six siblings may have what to eat.
I left home at around 10 am, I felt bad when I saw how my relatives were being affected by hunger, I feared they may die and our parents had nothing to do. I knew our area was not secure enough but also sometimes we could go to the gardens and come back. So I decided to go, I collected food and there I also found other three girls and around 4 pm they decided to go back home together.
When they moved into the bush, they heard the voice of some people saying “You young girls, stop there” Anita replied that she could not stop because it was already late, then I saw a group of men in front of us, I cried out and lost conscience and from there I do not know what happened. After four days I regained my conscience and found myself somewhere, when I asked my mother she told me I was in the hospital and that I was sick.
Her mother indicated “we waited for her in that evening but she did not come back, we were worried, in the following morning some women who also used that road found her laying down on the roadside, they noticed that she was our daughter, they carried her and brought her here at home, she was in a very bad situation shouting like a mad person “I was raped by rebels”, then they helped me and we took her to the Hospital.
They started giving her medicine and after four days she now started asking me what happened to her. I explained but in that hospital they doctors did not tell us that she was infected with HIV/AIDs, we stayed there for two months and in the process, they started asking us for money to pay the bill which we did not have, then we decided to run away and left Masisi and moved to Goma where we are hiding. I don’t know how much was the money but I was informed it was a lot of money. Here we are hiding and we are living in fear because of this money, if they know we are here, they will come and arrest us.
Anita was then taken to a hospital here in Goma where she was told that she was HIV Positive and since last year 2020 she was put on drugs which she is using up to now. The problems are too many and we do not know what to do, I do not have any income generating activity, my husband goes to Virunga National Park to collect firewood which we sell and get some money, and that is how we are surviving. Look at the house where we are staying, and we are here with the whole family of six children. Sometimes when we get something we eat, when we do not have it we sleep hungry.
Anita does not take her medicine if there is no food, and that alone is a problem to me, sometimes she goes to the Hospital and the medicine is not available, so she has to wait for some days. I’m here suffering and I do not know where the help will come from.
Anita is hopeful
When we talked to Anita, she said she wanted to learn Tailoring because it can give her quick money in order to support her family and be able to buy medicine and her other needs.
This family needs first of all humanitarian support to solve food and shelter problems, empower the family members to get engaged in income generating activities, including training for grown up children among them Anita.
Other rape cases
However Anita is one among many other refugee women victims of rape and other forms of sexual abuses in eastern D.R.Congo and unfortunately who have remained unknown for long time because these abuses have not yet been documented.
Questions remain unanswered why issues affecting refugees in eastern D.R.Congo remain unknown and undocumented? Why silence against refugees in eastern D.R.Congo? Is this strategic and deliberate or is it just a human error? And until when will the world use her senses to end indifference towards these refugees? How do UN Agencies resort to silence? Yet again recently the UNHCR boss here in Goma only came to mobilize the International Community on the situation of Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees from Central African Republic, almost nothing was said about refugees in the East.
When you move around Goma, you will find so many powerful organizations such as UNHCR, IOM, USAID, UKAID, UNICEF, among others. Actually in every house here in Goma you may find tents either from UNHCR or from IOM but refugees have nothing to cover with.
So, where did humanity go wrong from, wake up and let us all join hands together to address the situation of refugees in Eastern D.R.Congo. This is one among the solutions to peace in eastern parts of the country.
You can challenge this and support the protection of refugee women in D.R.Congo
There are so many things that can be in order to challenge what is being done against refugee women in eastern D.R.Congo:
1. Break the law of silence, please whenever you can across anything, any news, any actions about D.R.Congo just ask where are refugees in Eastern part of the country,
2. You can engage both the D.R.Congo government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to ensure that all refugees are registered, they are put in settlement and they are granted humanitarian relief aid,
3. Join our fundraising drive and support our work in order to expose the situation of refugees in Eastern DRCongo, we need various actors at various levels.
Jackson Baguma Ntamuzinda