By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrapped up her laborious weeklong, 11-country trek through Africa today by claiming to have begun reforming American relations with the continent. Her mission was incredibly important for two reasons. First, African relations with the United States are critical to that continent's economic development and equally critical to the West in terms of keeping supply lines open to that part of the world's largely unexploited treasure trove of natural resources.
The second reason is ending the incredible sexual violence toward Congolese women. Secretary Clinton toured refugee camps where women fled to escape gang rapes and all manner of sexual torture that have left many of them with digestive and reproductive systems savaged beyond repair. (Please see earlier posts on this topic.)
Reports the New York Times:
Mrs. Clinton said her focus on Africa would not end with her return to Washington, noting that her staff would continue monitoring the issues she addressed on her tour.
Something tells me Ambassador Melanne Verveer, whom I interviewed a month ago or more for my PBS show, will be following up in the Congo in the not-too-distant future. Secretary Clinton found $17 million to give Congolese officials help to bolster police efforts to end the sexual violence and medical efforts to rehabilitate the women. Ambassador Verveer, the first-ever U.S. Ambassador to Global Women's Issues, should be heading to the Congo in the next few months to make sure that money is being well and effectively spent.