Displacement & MigrationNews

#NyirangongoEruption: Displaced Women Are Being Given Aid In Exchange For Sex

The eruption, which has claimed several lives, has also created an exploitation avenue for sexual predators.

Women displaced by the May 22, Nyiragongo volcanic eruption located in Munigi in Nyiragongo territory and Kamuronza in Masisi territory, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo, are being sexually molested in exchange for tags that enable them to receive humanitarian assistance, HumAngle can report.

The said tags are means of identification given to the displaced persons which they present at aid distribution centers before being given humanitarian assistance.

The forum of women leaders of North Kivu during a press briefing in Goma on Wednesday, Aug. 25,  confirmed the existence of a network of individuals involved in “sexually transmissible tags” for which they demand sex from women before giving them the tags.

“Within the forum, we have several commissions. The commission charged with identifying problems went down to the Kanyaruchinya site in Kayembe and its members came across cases of sexually transmissible tags,” said Prosper Hamuli Birali, Moderator at the press briefing and member of the forum of women leaders of North Kivu.

“The pressure for access to humanitarian assistance is such that certain actors in the camp demand sexual favours before giving out the tags for receiving humanitarian assistance.”

“The victims are under pressure because they have the need to eat, the need to have basic social amenities. This is a problem which is not denounced because the person who condemns this despicable act automatically loses the advantages that go with the tag.”

“Once the documentation of cases is completed, we shall send a report to the relevant decision-making authorities.”

The women leaders of North Kivu have called for the urgent intervention of the authorities while waiting for the conclusion of their investigations which would be rendered public.

“We went down to the Kanyaruchinya and Kamuronza camps and we observed that there are families which are between life and death. Access to drugs is a big problem,” declared Florence Mwenge, mobilizer of funds for the forum of women leaders of North Kivu.

“We condemn with the strongest energy all that is happening. We have received echoes from the Kanyaruchinya camp concerning cases of violence and sexually transmissible tags and even cases of the tags being given by those in charge of the affected persons to their families and concubines to the detriment of the real affected persons.”

“These are things which we are going to follow closely using mechanisms which are in place to denounce cases of bad behaviour.”

“Finally, the victims find it difficult to condemn certain things in order to permit the real affected persons to have access to different advantages without being victims of violence based on gender.”

Hundreds of victims of the May 22, 2021 Nyiragongo volcanic eruption whose houses were ravaged by lava remain camped in the Kayembe site in Nyiragongo in wait for their installation in shelters already erected by the government in Kibati.

Tens of others remain in Kamuronza in the Masisi territory where they have been living under precarious conditions also waiting for their installation in shelters erected by the government in Kibati through the engineering corps of the DR Congo national army.

The  Nyiragongo volcanic eruption,  resulted in 31 deaths. Some inhabitants died through asphyxiation on trying to walk through the lava that had cut across the number two national highway in Kilima Nyoka within the Nyiuragongo territory. Others died by road accident as they tried to flee from the eruption.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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