During his visit to eastern Congo, Development Minister Dirk Niebel acknowledged the importance of church-sponsored development work in the crisis region. "The contribution of churches in building civil society in Congo is very important," Niebel said Monday in Goma. From Congo, he then traveled on to Mozambique, the last stop on his week-long trip to Africa.
After a visit to the Congolese Christian development organization "Heal Africa," Niebel explained in the crisis region of North Kivu that church sponsors are "very widespread, especially in the countryside, and thus help to create social networks". "Heal Africa", which is financially supported by several churches, received a pledge from Niebel for 850.000 euros in support. The organization advocates for women who have been victims of sexual violence. Co-founder Lyn Luschi explained that nearly seven years after the official end of the war in Congo, rape and sexual assault are still being used as a tool in the conflict. "Assaults on women happen every day," Luschi said. High number of unreported cases Her organization provides the women with medical care and offers them literacy and education. Since 2005, according to Luschi's data, some 28 sought.000 sexually abused women seek refuge at Heal Africa. The number of unreported cases, however, is far higher. So far, he said, only 700 cases have been legally prosecuted. "Heal Africa" is therefore building a DNA database that will enable the identification of perpetrators. In eastern Congo, it is primarily non-governmental organizations that provide basic social services and thus compensate for the lack of state structures. 70 percent of health care is provided by non-state actors, experts say. The German government supports the Democratic Republic of Congo with about 150 million euros annually. The money will go primarily to the areas of resource protection, water supply and health, as well as to the education and training of the Congolese police and the integration of former child soldiers.