(New York, NY) The following is a statement from Panzi Foundation USA:
In our work with Panzi Hospital and Panzi Foundation DRC, we provide support to survivors of rape perpetrated by militias and other bad actors in eastern Congo.
Co-Founded by Dr. Denis Mukwege with Dr. Lee Ann De Reus, Panzi USA scheduled a delegation to attend the Partners Conference in Bukavu, South Kivu province in May 2017. The visit would have marked Dr. De Reus' tenth to Panzi facilities. Our Executive Director Tony Gambino has been traveling to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) regularly since 1979 in many capacities, including as the Mission Director for USAID in Kinshasa for three years.
The Kabila government, which continues to violate the Congolese Constitution, denied travel visas for Dr. Lee Ann De Reus and Tony Gambino.
Dr. De Reus stated: "As the Panzi Model continues to show clinical progress and benefits to families and society, we are with our colleagues every step of the way. Documenting success at Panzi, and how they overcome the many challenges presented in a conflict zone, are critical for our work."
President Kabila and his government cannot silence the voices of our colleagues and the many Congolese who want free and fair elections by denying Americans travel visas. President Kabila is well beyond his Constitutional mandate. By denying our team their visas, it only confirms the democratic space and the humanitarian space is closing in Congo.
Executive Director Tony Gambino noted: "This is yet another clear example of the Kabila government's sad decline into an autocratic defiance of all decency and respect for humanitarian norms."
Mr. Gambino is available for interviews.