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Mukwege was operating when Nobel Prize news reached him

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Denis Mukwege, the Congolese surgeon who has been named joint winner of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize says he was in the middle of an operation when the news reached him.

In an interview with the prize committee hours after he was named along with Iraqi Nadia Murad, a surprised Mukwege said: “I need a little bit (more) time to really be able to talk. But it was so touching when I was operating and I heard people start to cry, and it was so, so touching… on file, my program is to operate this morning.

“…I start (ed) my program, and it was good because I was just at the end of the second operation, when suddenly people started just to cry and make noise… and I can see in the eyes of many how they are happy to be recognized,” he added.

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The Peace Prize was awarded on Friday to Mukwege and Murad, a former slave of the Islamic State group. The duo were awarded “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war”.

The award committee highlighted Denis Mukwege as one who “dedicated his life to defending victims of sexual violence in times of war,” particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

With his team, he “saved thousands of patients who were victims of such assaults.” He has consistently condemned impunity for gang rape and “criticized the Congolese government and other countries for not doing enough to stop the use of sexual violence against women and as a weapon of war.”

The government spokesperson, Lambert Mende conveyed Kinshasa’s praise for Mukwege’s feat: “government congratulates Dr Denis Mukwege for the very important work he does, although there are often disagreements between us.

“We have had differences with [him] every time that he tried to politicise his work which however is important from a humanitarian standpoint. But now, we are satisfied with the Nobel Academy’s recognition of the work of a compatriot,” Mende told AFP.

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