Aid work suspended due to deadly attack in DR Congo

Faith Castro
September 27, 2018

In addition to many people's fear of Ebola, the World Health Organization senior official explained that the situation was being further complicated by local politicians who "exploited and manipulated" them prior to upcoming elections.

The response is at a critical juncture and, although the weekly number of new cases has fallen from about 40 to about 10 in the past few weeks and more than 11,700 people have been vaccinated, major obstacles remain ahead, Salama said. It has advised against and restriction of travel and trade to the DRC based on the information that is now available and is continuing to monitor and verify travel and trade measures if necessary.

At least 14 civilians and four soldiers were killed on Saturday in a six-hour attack by rebels on the town of Beni in eastern Congo, the army and local officials said, warning the unrest could hamper efforts to quash an Ebola epidemic in the area.

Ebola has claimed 100 lives since the deadly virus outbreak started almost two months ago in North Kivu, a north-eastern border region where more than 100 armed groups operate.

"We are now extremely concerned that several factors may be coming together in the next weeks or months to create a potentially ideal storm", the Australian epidemiologist added.

Ebola, which causes fever, severe headache and in some cases hemorrhaging, most commonly affects people and nonhuman primates, such as monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees.

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Pockets of "reluctance, refusal and resistance" to accept Ebola vaccination were generating numerous new cases, Salama said.

"As the days go on, if we do see unsafe burials that can't be responded to, if we do see symptomatic people that can't be accessed, we can see this situation deteriorating very quickly".

Because of the unrest, the population in Ebola-affected towns are highly migratory, sparking fears that deadly virus could spread further or spill into neighboring Uganda.

"If WHO and its partners had to leave North Kivu ... we would have grave concerns that this outbreak would not be able to be well controlled in the coming weeks or months".

Congo is concurrently experiencing a long-term humanitarian crisis that includes intermittent armed conflict, according to WHO, the United Nations' public health division.

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