UK Ambassador Addresses Bukavu in DRC Speech

Dear Partners and friends from Great Britain,

Good evening.

I can't begin my speech this evening without thanking our host, the Honorary Consul of Great Britain, Mr Ketan Kotecha, for welcoming us to his magnificent residence, giving us an opportunity to meet (some of us for the first time) while admiring the beauty of the city of Bukavu, a city I'm visiting for the first time and certainly not the last.

Bukavu is the capital of the province of South Kivu, a province that was once ravaged by repeated conflicts, but which has recently, thanks to the efforts of all concerned, but mainly thanks to its hard-working and resilient population, been able to get through the most difficult times and begin its march towards stability. Admittedly, there are still a few pockets of instability, which in the near future, with everyone's help, will find peace.

South Kivu is going through a crucial period, notably with the disengagement of MONUSCO, which does not mean abandonment by the United Nations system, and even less so by the International Community, but also by a new political era following last year's elections, which brought new life and new authorities at the head of the province. We wish them a fruitful mandate in the service of the population's well-being.

I'm also here this week for a special purpose: to support the visit of surgeons and clinicians from Swansea University and University College London, who are collaborating with Panzi Hospital and the Scar Free Foundation on a potentially revolutionary initiative in the field of VVF. Their work alongside Dr Mukwege's wonderful team at Panzi Hospital during my visit today has been inspiring, and I pay particular tribute to Professors Ian Whitaker and Sohier Elneil and their colleagues for their work. Sexual violence is one of the most horrific consequences of this conflict, but this initiative brings hope to the victims.

We are optimistic that these changes in the province will bring hope with the support of all parties, including the technical and financial partners of South Kivu Province and the DRC in general. Finally, this is an opportunity for me to reaffirm Great Britain's friendship for the DRC and its people, and our commitment to working in support of the authorities and non-governmental organisations to meet the different challenges in the province and the country.

Many thanks to all of you.

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