WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit the troubled east of the Democratic Republic of Congo on her upcoming Africa trip to push to end soaring violence against women, a top aide said Thursday.
Clinton will travel to Goma, a city flooded with refugees since the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda, as part of her seven-nation tour starting next week, said Johnnie Carson, the assistant secretary of state for Africa.
Clinton will meet with some victims of sexual violence, which has soared since the government launched an offensive against rebels in January.
"The secretary is deeply concerned about the gender-based violence which is occurring in the eastern Congo," Carson said.
Clinton "will underscore America's commitment to try to end this gender-based violence and will meet with some of the victims who have suffered from it," he said.
The United Nations says nearly 3,500 women have been raped -- with perpetrators from both sides of the conflict -- since the start of the year.
Congo's army launched a joint operation with Rwanda's armed forces in late January against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), who have operated out of the region since the aftermath of Rwanda's 1994 genocide.
Clinton has long been an advocate for women's rights and sought last year to become the first female leader of the United States.
Clinton will travel to seven countries from next week -- Kenya, South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Liberia and Cape Verde.
Despite the violence, a number of foreign dignitaries have visited Goma with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon heading there in February.