FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hollidaysburg, PA, October 28, 2012 – Panzi Foundation USA is shocked and saddened by the recent attack on our co-founder, Dr. Denis Mukwege, and the murder of his long-time employee. As widely reported in the media, several armed men entered Dr. Mukwege’s home in the Democratic Republic of Congo Thursday evening and held his daughters at gunpoint while they awaited his return home. Dr. Mukwege and his family were unhurt; the gunmen escaped and have not been apprehended.
Dr. Mukwege is founder and director of Panzi Hospital, located in the city of Bukavu in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Both Dr. Mukwege and the hospital have developed international renown for their dedication to treating women who have been devastated by rape and other sexual violence that is widespread in the region.
Dr. Lee Ann De Reus, who co-founded Panzi Foundation USA with Dr. Muwkege, has been living and working at Panzi Hospital for several months while on a research sabbatical from Penn State University. Dr. De Reus noted that the Panzi community is relieved that Dr. Mukwege was unharmed but devastated by the murder of his long-time employee and friend.
“We are still reeling from the tragedy here in Bukavu but remain strong in our support of Dr. Mukwege and the mission of Panzi Hospital,” said Dr. De Reus. “Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers are with him, his family, and the family of his friend who was killed.”
Many have condemned the attack on Dr. Mukwege’s home, including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, V-Day founder and playwright Eve Ensler, and Physicians for Human Rights, a U.S.-based humanitarian group. According to the Secretary-General, “Dr. Mukwege’s extraordinary and heroic work has saved the lives of tens of thousands of Congolese, many thousands of them women and girls who have been the victims of sexual violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. He continues to be a force for good, and Panzi Hospital a haven for the most vulnerable,” said Ki-moon.
Dr. Mukwege’s honors for his work with survivors of sexual violence include the United Nations Human Rights Prize, the Olof Palme Prize, and the Clinton Global Citizen Award, as well as nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. He recently served on a high-level panel appointed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to document and detail sexual violence in eastern DRC.
Panzi Foundation USA supports Panzi Hospital with funding, equipment, and technical assistance in order to provide access to high-quality health care despite an environment of extreme poverty, minimal infrastructure, and endemic violence. For more information, visit http://www.panzifoundation.org