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Dr. Mukwege’s Planned Return to DRC Shows Extraordinary Courage and Commitment

For Immediate Release

Despite continued grave concerns for his safety, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) supports Dr. Denis Mukwege in his return to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. As he resumes his work treating victims of sexual violence, PHR urges the relevant authorities to secure the safety of this internationally renowned surgeon and human rights champion.

Dr. Mukwege left the DRC more than two months ago after narrowly escaping assassination at his home by unknown assailants who shot to death his loyal household security guard, Joseph Bisimana. Because of the fear generated by the murder attempt and Dr. Mukwege’s absence, many victims of sexual violence have reportedly stopped seeking treatment at Panzi Hospital, where he is founder and medical director as well as a gynecological surgeon. He and his medical team have treated more than 30,000 survivors of sexual violence, many of them victims of the brutal conflicts in eastern Congo and beyond.

“Those of us who know and admire Dr. Mukwege are not surprised at the courage and commitment he continues to show by returning to DRC to care for thousands of horrifically abused women who have nowhere else to turn,” said Donna McKay, PHR’s executive director. “We urge MONUSCO and the DRC government to make every effort to ensure that he, his family, the hospital staff and their patients are protected and that they are permitted to carry out their important work in peace.”

Dr. Mukwege has announced his intention to return to Bukavu on Monday, Jan. 14. He currently is in Europe following a month-long visit to the United States facilitated by PHR, during which he met with former President Clinton, Senator John Kerry, and a number of UN and US ambassadors.

“The Congolese government must give the utmost priority to the safety of Dr. Mukwege and his family,” said Susannah Sirkin, deputy director at PHR. “Not only are his medical services in great demand among countless women and girls raped or wounded during ongoing violence, but his dedication to his work and his vision for healing the country remain a shining beacon of hope in a land still ravaged by conflict.”

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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Kevin Short

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