11 May 2017

(Washington, DC) Yesterday, Panzi Foundation USA's Executive Director Tony Gambino responded to inaccurate statements made by Monusco officials on Twitter. "To say that Dr. Mukwege is under no threat is a terribly wrong misstatement. His close friend and colleague, Dr. Gildo Byamungu was murdered in Uvira just a few weeks ago. Sadly, the statement made by Monusco is factually incorrect. Protection was withdrawn following the departure of former SRSG Martin Kobler. This needs to be rectified as soon as possible."

Mr. Gambino is available for interviews. 

The statement below, from our colleagues at Panzi Foundation DRC, reflects the facts surrounding the withdrawal of protection. Panzi Foundation USA endorses and joins them in calling for the restoration of protection to Dr. Mukwege and Panzi Hospital. 

Statement from the Panzi Foundation DRC on the Protection MONUSCO Provides to Dr. Mukwege and Panzi Hospital

"On Tuesday, May 9, the French newspaper "La Croix" published an article stating that MONUSCO no longer provides permanent protection to Dr. Dénis Mukwege. That statement is true.

"On Wednesday, May 10, in Kinshasa, during a press conference, Charles Antoine Bambara, MONUSCO's Director of Public Information, stated that "MONUSCO always has protected Dr. Denis Mukwege. Our forces are always there to secure those who feel threatened. Some of our soldiers are even now near Panzi Hospital." That statement is inaccurate, and verifiably so.

"MONUSCO protected Panzi Hospital and Doctor Mukwege for a certain period until the departure of SRSG Martin Kobler.

"Unfortunately, MONUSCO, without giving us any explanation, no longer protects the hospital as it once did.

"The Pakistani contingent of MONUSCO, which had been based at Panzi camp, was moved last year. There are no more MONUSCO blue helmets in the vicinity of the hospital.

"Also, MONUSCO said on Twitter that "MONUSCO continues its protection to Dr. Mukwege and there is no threat to him." This statement also is inaccurate.

"The threat remains, grows, and is permanent. It is surprising that MONUSCO does not seem to understand this fundamental and urgent reality about the safety of Dr. Mukwege, the medical and administrative staff, and especially the girls and women who come to Panzi.

"MONUSCO's mandate is to protect civilians. We request that MONUSCO provide permanent, continuous protection to Dr. Mukwege and Panzi Hospital. We thank them for the escorts that continue to take place."

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Contact: Elizabeth Blackney, +1541.390.1913 
 ElizabethB@pfusa.org