Date: March 14, 2019
Subject: Ambassador Hammer visits eastern DRC, deepens understanding of Congolese challenges and potential
The United States Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo Mike Hammer traveled to Butembo, Bukavu, Bisie and Goma March 8 to 13 as past of his mission to find ways to best strengthen relations with all regions of the DRC, including specifically discussing in the Eastern DRC ways for improving security, reviewing the ongoing efforts to stop Ebola, and spurring economic and social development. Close cooperation between Congolese and Americans can contribute to a more prosperous future for the DRC.
“Among my top priorities as U.S. Ambassador to the DRC is to meet and learn from as many Congolese as possible from all sectors and walks of life,” said Ambassador Hammer. “I want to directly hear from the Congolese, by meeting them and through conversations on social media – how should US partner to advance a better future. I aim to work with President Tshisekedi and a new DRC government to promote the peace and prosperity that Congolese deserve. Understanding the aspirations of the Congolese is the first step to achieving that goal.”
In Butembo, Ambassador Hammer, joined WHO Director Dr. Tedros Adhanom, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, and USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator Dr. Alma Golden, in visiting an Ebola clinic hours after it was attacked by militia groups, resulting in the tragic death of a police officer, for which the Ambassador expressed his condolences. Ambassador Hammer also met with Bishop of the Diocese of Butembo-Beni, Melchizedech Sikuli, who shared his perspectives on the challenges facing the region, including insecurity, social development, and Ebola.
In Bukavu, the Ambassador had the honor to meet Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege and expressed the US continued commitment of support for the important work he and the Panzi Hospital do to address gender-based violence. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department have provided financial support the Panzi Hospital. While in Bukavu, Ambassador Hammer also discussed security challenges with MONUSCO bureau chief Josiah Obat.
Understanding the challenges faced by local schools, businesses, human rights activists, and environmental protectionists in the area was another priority for Ambassador Hammer. He spoke with teachers and students at LaMerveille school in Kavum, one of many USAID-supported schools in the DRC. Ambassador Hammer visited ONAPAC, a Congolese coffee producer that collaborates with the USAID project “Strengthening Value Chain Activities,” and ASILI, a business cluster project including a health clinic, a clean water distribution system, and an agricultural cooperative to help famers increase their yields and incomes. Not missing his chance to experience Congo’s breathtaking natural beauty, Ambassador Hammer visited Kahuzi-Biega National Park, where heroic park rangers risk their lives to protect some of the world’s most beautiful flora and fauna. He saw firsthand how DRC tourism development in collaboration with local communities and U.S. funding bring improvements to local communities.
Ambassador Hammer visited Alphamin, a U.S. company that employs Congolese, and is dedicated to being a responsible member of the local business community and promoting community development.
In Goma, Ambassador Hammer donated books and other educational materials at the opening of a new American Shelf at the Congo Peace Network. American Shelfs are spaces where students, youth, civil society, or anyone interested in learning about the United States can gather for meetings and discussions.
Joined by Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Tibor Nagy, the United States Ambassador to Rwanda Peter Vrooman, and USAID DRC Mission Director Paul Sabatine, Ambassador Hammer closed his visit to Eastern Congo by meeting with staff from the World Food Program and the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team to discuss the life-saving food assistance and personal protective equipment for Ebola response efforts provided by the United States.
You can follow Ambassador Hammer on Twitter @USAmbDRC and learn more about U.S. assistance to the DRC at cd.usembassy.gov.
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