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Clinton offers aid to victims of Africa's longest conflict

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: U.S. funding announced for rape victims in Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Clinton: "We want to banish ... sexual violence into the dark past where it belongs"
  • Tens of thousands of women reportedly raped in regional strife
  • Nigeria, Liberia and Cape Verde are next stops on Clinton's Africa tour
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(CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton brought an offer of help Tuesday for victims -- especially victims of sexual violence -- in Africa's longest war, a regional conflict that's dragged on for more than a decade.

Clinton is touring seven African nations. Here, she visits Cape Town, South Africa, over the weekend.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits with U.N. peacekeepers Tuesday in Goma, Congo.

"We want to banish the problems of sexual violence into the dark past where it belongs," she said during her visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In a meeting with leaders of nongovernmental organizations, Clinton said the United States will provide "more than $17 million in new funds to prevent and respond to gender and sexual violence."

On Monday, Clinton had delivered a blunt message to Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito when he hosted a dinner in her honor.

"There must be an end to widespread financial corruption and abuses of human rights and women's rights," she said. "There must be an improvement in governance and the respect for the rule of law."

She also called for "changes in the business climate, changes in the rules and regulations that involve contracts and the protection of property" to promote foreign investment.

On Tuesday, she offered help to the country's president, Joseph Kabila.

"I offered and the president accepted my sending of legal and financial and other technical experts to the DRC to provide specific suggestions about how to overcome these very serious obstacles to the potential of this country," she said, according to a pool report from Goma, in the east of the country.

The Congo conflict has involved several countries and resulted in an estimated 5 million deaths from fighting and collateral problems such as disease and starvation, according to an International Rescue Committee survey conducted more than a year ago. The United Nations estimates 200,000 women and girls have been raped in Congo since war broke out 12 years ago.

"I will be pressing very hard for not just assistance to help those who are being abused and mistreated, in particular the women who are turned into weapons of war through the rape they experience, but also looking for ways to try to end this conflict," Clinton said.

"I hope that here in the [Congo] there will be a concerted effort to demand justice for women who are violently attacked, and to make sure that their attackers are punished," she said Monday after a tour of a Kinshasa, Congo, hospital.

The United Nations said there were 15,996 cases of sexual violence registered in Congo in 2008. A Human Rights Watch report says two out of three rapes were carried out against children, mostly adolescent girls.

Clinton took a small U.N. plane on the 1,000-mile trip from Kinshasa to Goma, the scene of intense fighting over the past several years.

The smaller aircraft was necessary because the U.S. plane being used on her seven-nation Africa trip is too big for the local landing strip, Clinton told reporters Monday.

She opened her Africa trip in Nairobi, Kenya, then went to South Africa and Angola. After Congo, she will travel to Nigeria, Liberia and Cape Verde.

The Obama administration is using Clinton's tour to promote development and good governance and underscore the president's commitment to Africa.

CNN's Wayne Drash contributed to this report.

All About Hillary ClintonDemocratic Republic of the CongoAfrica

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