The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2018 to Congolese surgeon Dr. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for “their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict”.

Dr Mukwege is an award-winning gynaecologist whose Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, has treated more than 40,000 women for physical, and psychological injuries a result of sexual assaults by members of state forces and militias.

Announcing this year’s Peace Laureates the awarding committee said: “2018 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Denis Mukwege is the helper who has devoted his life to defending victims of war-time sexual violence. Fellow laureate Nadia Murad is the witness who tells of the abuses perpetrated against herself and others”.

“This year’s Peace Laureate Denis Mukwege has repeatedly condemned impunity for mass rape and criticised the Congolese government and other countries for not doing enough to stop the use of sexual violence against women as a strategy and weapon of war,” the Nobel Peace Prize wrote on Twitter.

Screen shot of Dr Mukwege with two of his patients.

The Congolese surgeon founded a gynaecology unit and maternity ward in Bukavu in 1996. Since the beginning of the second Congo war in 1998, Mukwege has performed over 10,000 surgeries. He has gone on to treat thousands of women who have sustained injuries from rape.

Read: Rape now a state political weapon in DRC

Dr Mukwege has been tipped to win for many years, having been on the shortlist for almost a decade. In 2016 Dr. Mukwege was a favourite amongst the nominees to receive the Peace Prize together with Mama Jeanne and Mama Jeanette. In 2015, Dr Mukwege was again a strong contender but the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize was eventually won by Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet for its role in the country’s transition to pluralistic democracy.

Nadia Murad, a fearless human rights activist

Nadia Murad, who receives this year’s award with Dr Mukwege is a Yazidi-Kurdish human rights activist. She was captured by ISIS militants in 2014 and has extensively talked about the abuse she suffered at their hands.

The Nobel Peace Prize committee, said Nadia is “the witness who tells of the abuses perpetrated against herself and others. She has shown uncommon courage in recounting her own sufferings and speaking up on behalf of other victims”.

Nadia Murad, a prominent Yezidi human rights activist and survivor of ISIS gender-based violence, delivers remarks at the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. Photo: U.S. Department of State from United States/wiki/CC

“Nadia Murad is one of an estimated 3,000 Yazidi girls and women who were victims of rape and other abuses by the IS army. The abuses were systematic and part of a military strategy. They served as a weapon in the fight against Yazidis and other religious minorities. #NobelPrize,” the committee wrote.

Social media users have been celebrating this historic achievement, sending congratulatory messages to the Congolese surgeon and the Iraqi human rights activist.