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Life of Nobel Peace prize Congo's doctor who helps raped women is in real danger

Dr Denis Mukwege’s life, a top Congolese gynaecologist and Pentecostal pastor doctor who won the Nobel Peace prize in 2018 for his work in Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where he specializes in the treatment of women who have been raped by armed rebels, is in danger after a series of death intimidations, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights declared.

The threats, received via phone calls as well as via social media to Dr Denis Mukwege and his family, appeared to be linked to his outspoken criticism of violence against women and other human rights violations.

Denis Mukwege speaks at the United Nations Security Council during a meeting about sexual violence in conflict in New York, New York, U.S. Image credit REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

In a statement, the High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet announced that “His life seems to be at serious risk,” asking for an urgent impartial investigation into the extortions.

Mukwege, meanwhile, keeps working and receiving thousands of women each year at the Panzi hospital, many of them requiring surgery from sexual violence.

The hospital, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where ethnic violence is rife, is a shed light in a territory controlled by various militia and armed groups, as well as counter-operations by the army.

He has previously received death threats before and survived an assassination attempt in his family compound in 2012.

Pope Francis greets 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Denis Mukwege, during the weekly general audience in the Vatican. Image credit Vatican Media/­Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

He had recently criticised the freshly civilian attacks in South Kivu, and according to Rupert Colville, a spokesman at Bachelet’s office, this might be one of the reasons why the Doctor’s life is at risk. He said: “The threats appear to be linked to his advocacy and the very robust positions he has taken on accountability, on the protection of women as a result of what he has seen over two decades in the Panzi hospital”.

Yet, Congo’s government is officially responsible for Mukwege’s protection, although the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the country also provides some, Colville said.

Nonetheless, questions remain about the quality of his protection, he added, explaining that he definitely needs 24-hour surveillance as the danger of the situation is skyrocketing.

President Felix Tshisekedi last week called on his government to take all necessary measures to ensure his security and to open inquiries into the threats against him.

Don’t give up Doctor Mukwege, we are with you!


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