S&D trip to Democratic Republic of Congo
17 April 2015
I have just returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo with 4 other members from the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament. The aim of the trip was to meet with Congolese officials, civil society representatives and NGOs working in the fields of women's rights, democracy and the fight against conflict minerals. We hoped to explore and discuss ways in which the EU can continue working to support local communities in the region following 20 years of civil war. A visit of particular importance was meeting the 2014 Sakharov Prize laureate Dr Denis Mukwege at the Panzi Hospital for women victims of sexual violence in the war-torn Kivu region.
In these regions, armed groups, fuelled by the proceeds from illegal mining of minerals, attack local villages, raping women and children. I visited the hospital run by the truly courageous Dr Mukwege, who risks his own life on a daily basis to treat the victims of sexual violence in this conflict zone. Dr Muwkege appealed directly to MEPs to stop the trade in conflict minerals by introducing new traceability rules for the minerals which we can all find in our mobile phones and other devices.
The S&D delegation also met with Congolese prime minister Augustin Matata Ponyo Mapon. During our meeting we discussed the elections of 2015 and 2016, as well as the fight against the trade of conflict minerals. S&D MEPs insisted on the respect of the electoral calendar as a necessary condition for the stabilisation of the whole country. Following the discovery of 424 bodies in a mass grave near Maluku we called for a credible and transparent inquiry into this alleged massacre.