Ebola fight ongoing amid evidence of ‘several massacres’ in DR Congo’s Ituri province

UNICEF/Madjiangar Displaced persons collect relief supplies in Ituri province, north-east DRC. Interethnic violence has ravaged the Ituri Province since December 2017.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.

The vital work of tracing people infected with deadly Ebola virus disease in north-east Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is progressing, despite evidence of “several” massacres in the affected area earlier this month, the UN said on Friday.

In an update on the situation in Ituri and North Kivu provinces, nearly 11 months after the outbreak began, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 2,284 cases of infection so far, and 1,540 deaths.

At the same time, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, announced that a “robust” probe found that 117 people had been killed in “several massacres” involving multiple villages in gold-rich Ituri, between 10 and 13 June.

Victims beheaded in scorched-earth policy to prevent returns

“The investigative team confirmed that at least 94 people had been killed in Djugu territory and 23 in Mahagi territory, including an as yet undetermined number of women and children,” OHCHR spokesperson Marta Hurtado said. “Some of the victims were beheaded. Homes and warehouses were burned down after being looted. The ferocity and scorched-earth nature of the attacks suggests the assailants intended to prevent survivors from being able to return to their villages.”

Most of the victims belonged to the Hema community, while the remainder were Alur people, Ms. Hurtado said. The attackers were reportedly from the Lendu community, she added, her comments echoing an earlier alert from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, that thousands of people displaced by violence had arrived in Uganda this month, with an average of 311 people crossing the border daily, double the number for May.

Despite the insecurity, WHO insisted that frontline workers were doing all they can to tackle Ebola in north-east DRC.

“We had 637 people who survived the disease, and I think this is important”, said Dr. Ibrahima Soce Fall, WHO Assistant Director-General for Emergency Response.

Briefing journalists in Geneva, he noted that around 90 people are currently receiving treatment for Ebola virus disease infection, while new cases have dropped from 106 two weeks ago, to 79 last week.

Towns seeing only ‘sporadic’ infections, rural areas a serious concern

Major urban centres of Butembo and Katwa were now seeing only “sporadic” cases of infection, thanks to full access, Dr. Fall explained, before cautioning that in Beni, a large town in North Kivu, Ebola had claimed nine lives since Monday.

Contact tracing there and other preventative work was slowed earlier this week, he added, amid attacks by taxi drivers who were upset about the death of a colleague who sought help too late.

Turning to remote areas, Dr. Fall confirmed that the “very volatile” security situation had complicated the WHO’s work to tackle “a new hotspot” in Mabalako and Mandima.

“The outbreak started there last year and spread to other regions,” he said, “so it’s important to break the vicious cycle, to contain very quickly the situation in Mabalako and Mandima, where we have more than 55 per cent of the cases coming from.”

For the first time in the current outbreak, Ebola has also reached small forest-based villages such as Alima, where access is “more challenging”, thanks to the presence of armed groups from DRC and neighbouring Uganda, Dr. Fall said.

“You cannot just say, ‘I have access, I can go,’” he explained. “You have to negotiate, you have to assess,” conscious that the “risk is still important, because as you know, with Ebola, you only need one case to start spreading or one high-risk contact not followed, transfers the disease”.

‘No transmission’ in Uganda

Asked about the infection threat in Uganda, where three people with Ebola died earlier this month after arriving from DRC, the WHO official insisted “there has been no transmission” of the virus.

More than 1,200 people with potential links to the deceased have been vaccinated in Uganda, he continued, noting that some 5,000 frontline healthworkers had already received the jab before the disease was declared in the country on 11 June.

This is in addition to the 150,000 people vaccinated against Ebola in DRC.

“Over 68 million people have been screened at the border to make sure that they are not moving with the disease,” Dr. Fall said. “And we have identified so far 19 cases at the border level that were detected since the beginning of the outbreak; 19.”

Despite this high level of preparedness at the border, Dr. Fall insisted that there were many more “unofficial” crossings, which meant that the risk of Ebola transmission remained high among DRC’s regional neighbours, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi.

Faced with this threat, he called for sustained international support for the campaign against Ebola.

WHO’s current funding needs are $98 million in DRC, of which $43.6 million has been received.

The budget to prevent transmission in Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda is almost $70 million for the last 12 months – a 40 per cent funding gap remains.

“We need to continue investing…in preparedness, because the risk is still there,” Dr. Fall said. “Since the beginning of the year we didn’t get any financing for preparedness in neighbouring countries. It’s really important to continue to invest in preparedness.”






the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Erdogan’s electoral win on a ‘me or chaos’ dilemma means trouble for everybody

One-sixth of the world’s economy has now pledged to cut CO2 to zero by 2050

EU to relocate 40,000 migrants across the bloc: first step of a long due substantial reform?

How has tech been used for good in civil society? We asked the experts

MWC 2016 LIVE: 5G to embrace unlicensed bands and Wi-Fi

Why a global recession isn’t inevitable

Report on EU trade defence – effective protection against unfair trade

The way to entrepreneurship in the developing world

Youth Forum calls on Parliament to ease entry into Europe for young people

More than 30 years of US trade with China, in one chart

Here are 3 lessons Europe can learn from China’s flourishing start-ups

Fleeing Venezuela: MEPs to probe humanitarian conditions in Colombia and Brazil

80 adolescents a day will still die of AIDS by 2030, despite slowdown in epidemic

EU to gain the most from the agreement with Iran

UN welcomes Angola’s repeal of anti-gay law, and ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation

EU: All economic indicators in free fall

What does the future of energy look like, how do we get there, and who will benefit?

COP24: A million lives could be saved by 2050 through climate action, UN health agency reveals

Chart of the day: Why marine protected sites matter more than ever

A Sting Exclusive: EU Commission’s Vice President Šefčovič accentuates the importance of innovation to EU’s Energy Union

China is adding a London-sized electric bus fleet every five weeks

Globalization 4.0 will help us tackle climate change. Here’s how

Here are four steps SMEs can take for long-term success

The US repelled EU proposals on common rules for banks

Why trade wars have no winners

The US-Mexico trade deal a threat for others, Trump to single out China, Europe

‘Global sisterhood’ tells perpetrators ‘time is up’ for pandemic of violence

Peace icon Mahatma Gandhi’s message of ‘mutual understanding, equality’ reverberates on Day of Non-Violence

When is necessary understand the cultural marks in health-disease process

EU secures more and cheaper energy supplies

These are India’s cleanest cities

Unemployment is down across the world’s largest economies

Mental disorders: a raging fire tearing apart the Moroccan society

How to stay in shape and step up support for refugees

Lagarde’s metamorphoses, not a laughing matter

European Youth Event 2016 – bridge between youth and policy makers

Human Rights breaches in Saudi Arabia, Chechnya and Zimbabwe

Amending Guatemala ‘reconciliation law’ would lead to unjust amnesty, warns Bachelet

5 charts that show renewable energy’s latest milestone

Eurozone’s sovereign debt not a problem anymore?

Statement by the Brexit Steering Group on UK paper on EU citizens in the UK

Why did Cameron gain absolute majority? What will he do now? Will he vote ‘yes’ in Britain’s in – out EU referendum?

‘Leaders who sanction hate speech’ encourage citizens to do likewise, UN communications chief tells Holocaust remembrance event

Companies have a new skill to master – innovation

‘The welfare of the Libyan people’ the UN’s sole agenda for the country, says Guterres in Tripoli

Worldwide UN family celebrates enduring universal values of human rights

Urgent action needed to address growing opioid crisis

How technology is leading us to new climate change solutions

Eight years after Fukushima, nuclear power is making a comeback

EU Charter of Fundamental Rights marks its 10th anniversary

Sudzha gas metering station at Russian-Ukrainian border (Copyright: Gazprom, 2015 / Gazprom’s website, Media)

Gazprom starts suspending gas contracts with Ukraine as Brussels fears limited transit to Europe

UN Forum examines three pillars of 2030 Global Goals

EU adopts new €100 million assistance package to benefit refugees and local communities in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq

SMEs and micro firms sinking together with south Eurozone

Nearly 180,000 displaced by northeast Syria fighting as needs multiply: UN refugee agency

European banking stress tests 2014: A more adverse approach for a shorter banking sector

Parliament cuts own spending to facilitate agreement on EU budget

Opposite cultures: Should it be a problem?

Climate action ‘both a priority and a driver of the decade’: Guterres

EU presses India for a free trade agreement

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s