Be Smart About South Africa

Citizens Demand the Protection of DRC Doctor

A doctor who shared a Nobel prize in 2018 for his work with victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is at risk of assassination after the United Nations withdrew peacekeepers guarding his hospital and residence, friends and supporters say. Denis Mukwege has received death threats in recent weeks after making a series of statements deploring recent violent incidents and calling for justice for perpetrators of possible war crimes committed in eastern DRC by militia, foreign troops and rebels. Mukwege has escaped several assassination attempts in the past and had been guarded by UN peacekeepers almost continually since unidentified gunmen shot dead a member of his domestic staff in 2012. But supporters say the UN withdrew protection of the doctor and his hospital several months ago. The UN peacekeeping force in the DRC – one of the biggest and most expensive in the world – had deployed troops at Panzi, near the hospital compound near Mukwege lives and works. A unit of about a dozen soldiers provided round-the-clock protection, and peacekeepers escorted Mukwege whenever he travelled. However, the peacekeepers were withdrawn in May after an outbreak of Covid-19 and have not been replaced. A small detachment of local police, who are poorly trained, badly armed and often corrupt, remain at the hospital.


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