Background with Senior Official on Secretary's Visit to Goma

Press Availability
MONUC Air Support Operations Base
Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo
August 11, 2009

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: (In progress) -- to do some of the most complicated (inaudible) bladder bags, and things like that, because these rapes are so brutal and so savage, that it takes the most expert kind of surgical competency to do that.

So, one of the critical requests that the (inaudible) hospital had and HEAL Africa had was to be able to train local doctors to be able to do this complicated surgery. And they have a very critical need for that.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yes, there are. Yes. To get the training, yes. They can be trained up, and that is -- they have already been identified, and we will be working with various physicians in the United States to bring them over to do that.

QUESTION: What about the 10 --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: The 10 came from the supplemental that Congress recently passed.

QUESTION: What about the 10,000 women, sending something --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: The whole -- the package would ultimately -- the hope is that the range of programs would address basic needs of 10,000 women, additionally.

QUESTION: Oh, that's 17 million.


QUESTION: And then was it U.S. Central Command or U.S. Africa Command is sending engineers?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: They are going to come and explore the feasibility to do some of the work related to health and other ways that AFRICOM has not been previously used.

And they should be coming on the ground in the next several weeks, as well as some technical support, to look at the feasibility of cell phones, video-enhanced cell phones, and other kinds of technology we're all familiar with, but could make a very big difference for service providers and, in fact, for the victims --

PARTICIPANT: You guys want to continue this on the bus, for the --

QUESTION: Yes, so it's U.S. Central Command, not Africa?




QUESTION: I thought it was, like, a plug -- sort of a plug -- for their new direction, right?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, we actually asked them -- over the last several weeks, knowing the critical needs, we have been exploring. And there was a hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and a lot of these issues were raised in the hearing, as well.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) based on information (inaudible) Secretary --

QUESTION: Are they going to do, like, sanitation latrines, or --


QUESTION: And over there, you can see (inaudible) --

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: It's more to figure out how to assist the survivors. And I don't know the specifics about what all they're going to engage in, but it's less of the infrastructure kinds of things, and more relating to health, and those kinds of things.

QUESTION: Well, what would be, like, a health thing that doesn't relate to infrastructure that an NGO would help with?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, it's MEDFLAG maybe coming in and looking at what they can do in the provision of health.

So, it wasn't so much engineers. It's medical personnel, medical personnel and military engineers. But I, frankly -- they're coming in to do an assessment, so they're being tapped. We know that they have the ability, on the medical side. We're looking at them for other possibilities. So -- and that came out of discussions over the last several weeks about what other resources could be brought in to address some of these critical needs.

QUESTION: Is the $10 million just to train doctors here, or to bring them from the States?


QUESTION: To bring people here?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: But for short periods of time.

QUESTION: I know that's (inaudible).

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, it was Dr. Mukwege who I talked to several months ago, and he said, "This need is beyond critical." And he said, "As fast as I am repairing them, and my team, we can't do the bladder bypasses, and those kinds of things." But he said, "We have the capacity to learn how to do it, so you're not dealing with people who are really neophytes in that sense."

So, all of the kinds of things that she mentioned in -- briefly in the $17 million package have come from (inaudible).

PRN: 2009/T11-39