Militia Ambush Kills 11 In DR Congo’s Troubled Ituri Region

Gunmen
File photo

 

Gunmen killed 11 people including military and local officials in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, officials said Sunday, an ambush attributed to a militia accused of a string of massacres.

Two vehicles coming from Bunia, the capital of Ituri province, were attacked Saturday at the village of Matete, Djugu territory administrator Adel Alingi Mokuba said.

“The death toll is 11, including the deputy territorial administrator in charge of economy and finance, three policemen and four soldiers,” he told AFP.

The convoy was carrying “a former provincial deputy, an accountant, police officers and civilians who were savagely massacred”, Ituri governor Jean Bamanisa said in a video posted online.

The governor warned the killers: “The army has not given up”.

The attack was the latest attributed to an ethnic militia called CODECO, the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo.

On Friday, DR Congo’s army said it had killed seven of the militia’s fighters, which claims to defend the interests of the Lendu ethnic group. The Lendu are predominantly farmers who have historically clashed with the Hema community of traders and herders.

Ituri is one of several provinces gripped by militia violence in eastern DR Congo, a country the size of continental western Europe.

More than 1,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Ituri since December 2017, including 375 since March, according to the United Nations.

“These acts could constitute crimes within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court,” ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda warned on June 4.

– ‘Slaughtering local residents’ –

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has accused CODECO and other Lendu fighters of pursuing “a strategy of slaughtering local residents — mainly the Hema, but also the Alur — since 2017” to control natural resources in the region.

Tens of thousands of people were killed in Hema-Lendu fighting between 1999 and 2003. The fighting resumed in 2017, for reasons that are not clear.

Just before Saturday’s attack, a delegation of former militia leaders from the 1999-2003 conflict had arrived in Ituri on a peace mission at the request of President Felix Tshisekedi.

Among them was Mathieu Ngudjolo, who was prosecuted but acquitted by the ICC in 2015, Ituri governor Bamanisa told AFP.

Local media reported that Germain Katanga was also present. Katanga was released in March having served nearly 12 years after being convicted by the ICC of war crimes including attacks on civilians.

The European Union ambassador to DR Congo, Jean-Marc Chataigner, condemned attacks in Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu on Twitter, calling for support of the army and the UN mission deployed in DR Congo, MONUSCO, “to prevent (militias) from doing harm”.

‘We Have Failed’: DR Congo Looks Back On 60 Years Of Independence

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa

 

As DR Congo marks 60 years of independence from brutal colonial ruler Belgium, some are lamenting how little progress has been made since in a country caught in a “vicious cycle of instability and poverty”.

Belgium’s King Philippe took the unprecedented step this week of expressing his “deep regrets” for the abuses suffered under his country’s yoke until the Democratic Republic of Congo broke away on June 30, 1960.

But many leaders in DRC have given a damning appraisal of what has happened in the country since.

“After 60 years of independence, the assessment is without doubt: we have shamefully failed. We have not been able to make Congo a more beautiful country than it was before,” said Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, the archbishop of Kinshasa, in a country where the powerful Catholic Church has been deeply critical of the government.

In a sermon on the 60th independence anniversary, the cardinal also lambasted “the succession of autocratic regimes”, “the culture of impunity” enjoyed by those in power, and the poverty suffered by many in DR Congo.

“We have collectively failed,” he summed up.

– ‘Mafia’ political class –

President Felix Tshisekedi gave a speech on Monday in which he said that “over 60 years, we have gradually allowed our political class to turn into a sort of mafia”.

“The average Congolese has lost 60 percent of their wealth in the last 60 years,” he said.

“Our road network is only 10 percent of what it was in 1960 and the rail network 20 percent.”

He also denounced a “political class which is struggling to tear this nation out of a vicious cycle of instability and poverty.”

Belgium meanwhile has been riven with debate over its colonial record during the worldwide anti-racism protests following George Floyd’s death in police custody in the United States. Protesters have graffitied or torn down several statues of Belgium’s colonial-era king Leopold II in recent weeks.

Looking to redress the historical imbalance, the Belgian city of Charleroi on Thursday named a street after Congolese independence icon Patrice Lumumba.

His son Guy-Patrice Lumumba told AFP that it was a “balm for the heart, it’s a recognition of our father’s fight”.

Lumumba, who became the country’s first prime minister on June 30, meanwhile had an entire town named after him — Lumumbaville — in central DR Congo.

Belgium’s colonisation was considered brutal even by the 19th-century standards, with historians saying that millions of Africans from areas in what is now DRC were killed, mutilated or died of disease as they worked on rubber plantations belonging to Leopold, king from 1865-1909.

The scars remain, with two-thirds of the population living below the poverty line.

“I want to express my deepest regrets for these wounds of the past whose pain is reawakened today by the discrimination still present in our societies,” Philippe said in a letter to Tshisekedi on Tuesday.

– Reparations call –

Tshisekedi on Monday paid tribute to Philippe, “who, like me, seeks to reinforce ties between our two countries without denying our shared past”.

He also sought to soothe tensions regarding Belgium returning Congolese cultural artifacts such as masks and statues that were looted during colonisation.

Not all were so conciliatory.

Prominent grassroots group Lucha (for “Struggle for Change”) said that DRC is still waiting for “an official apology and concrete action to restore as much as possible of the looted heritage, to carry out material and/or symbolic reparations, and teach the true history to new generations.”

The call for reparations was echoed by Lambert Mende, the spokesman of Tshisekedi’s predecessor, ex-president Joseph Kabila.

“People should be willing to repair the damage in terms of investment and compensation with interest. That’s what we expect from our Belgian partners,” he said.

A group of pro-democracy activists published a “Manifesto for a New Congo” on Tuesday saying that “successive regimes and leader have proven to be new predators”.

They also pointed to the complicity of “neo-colonialists and imperialist forces” siphoning up the country’s vast mineral riches.

AFP

DR Congo Violence Displaces Over One Million In Six Months – UN

(FILES) In this file photo, The United Nations flag is seen during the Climate Action Summit 2019 at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on September 23, 2019, in New York City. Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

 

More than one million people have been forced to flee their homes in the violence-ravaged eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since the start of the year, the UN said Tuesday.

The UNHCR, the United Nations’ refugee agency, voiced alarm at an increasing number of attacks by armed groups on displaced civilians, saying it was “appalled” by the surging violence.

“In the last eight weeks, UNHCR and its partners have recorded multiple attacks by armed groups on displacement sites and villages,” it said in a statement.

It said the attacks were mainly in Djugu Territory in Ituri province; in Fizi and Mwenga Territories in South Kivu province; and Masisi and Rutshuru Territories in North Kivu province.

“Violence has displaced more than one million people in the last six months in these areas,” the refugee agency said.

The UNHCR urged the authorities in the DRC to strengthen the police and military presence in the east “to improve the security situation and hold the perpetrators accountable”.

– Killings, mutilation –

“UNHCR is receiving accounts of the way armed groups are unleashing terror on people as they flee, in displacement sites and hosting areas, and when they attempt to return, including reports of killings and mutilation, sexual violence and looting,” the agency said.

“The displaced population is also subject to reprisal attacks for their perceived support for the army by returning armed groups, once the army completes operations to clear areas and is no longer present.”

The agency said the attacks were worsening an already complex displacement situation in eastern DRC and were piling pressure on the areas hosting internal migrants, which were lacking food, water and healthcare services.

It also said health centres had been attacked, with medicines to treat people potentially exposed to HIV being looted.

The DRC has one of the highest rates of internal displacement in the world, according to the UN.

Over five million people within the country’s borders have been uprooted by insecurity, while nearly a million more have sought safety in neighbouring countries as refugees.

– Funding shortfall –

The UNHCR said those uprooted were overwhelmingly women and children and it was providing shelter, relief items and cash.

The agency appealed for further funding, saying it had only received 21 percent of the $168 million (149.59 million euros) it needed for its DRC operations this year.

Some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) from the capital Kinshasa, the eastern DRC is one of Africa’s flashpoints.

It was the theatre of two major wars, which ran from 1996-1997 and from 1998-2003, the second of which eventually involved nine countries and two dozen armed groups.

Millions died from the fighting, disease or malnutrition and violence and volatility remain acute today.

North Kivu in particular has suffered at the hands of militia groups, especially the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a mainly Muslim movement that originated in neighbouring Uganda in the 1990s.

Ethnic violence in Ituri, involving the Lendu and Hema communities, has meanwhile claimed nearly 300 lives since March.

AFP

DR Congo PM Lashes Out At Arrest Of Justice Minister

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa

 

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s prime minister has chastised President Felix Tshisekedi over the “arbitrary” arrest of the justice minister in a deepening government rift over proposed judicial reforms.

Justice Minister Celestin Tunda Ya Kasende was detained for several hours on Saturday after clashing with Tshisekedi over the legal changes, which set off two days of violent protests in Kinshasa last week.

He was later released without charge, with the prosecutor saying it was a “pointless hassle” according to one of his supporters.

The feud has pitted Tshisekedi loyalists against supporters of his predecessor Joseph Kabila, who still wields huge behind-the-scenes influence 18 months after standing down from the presidency.

“Members of the government have expressed their indignation at the humiliation suffered by their colleague,” Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga’s office said in a statement dated Saturday and seen by AFP on Sunday.

The ministers “condemn this arbitrary arrest” which they said was “in violation of the basic rule of law”, the statement said, calling for an investigation into those who launched the arrest proceedings.

Several sources said Saturday that Ilunga had threatened to resign over the incident, a move that would have put an end to the fragile government coalition.

READ ALSO: Civilians Among Over 100 Victims Of Libya Mines – UN

Both Ilunga and Tunda Ya Kasende are members of the Common Front for Congo (FCC) a grouping close to Kabila which sits alongside Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) in government and accounts for about two thirds of cabinet posts.

The controversial judicial reforms were put forward by the FCC and include proposals to define the powers of judges, which critics say is a ploy to muzzle the judiciary in a country known for its instability.

Angry Tshisekedi supporters took to the streets for two days last week in violent demonstrations against the changes.

Tshisekedi took office in January last year in the first peaceful transfer of power in sub-Saharan Africa’s largest country after 18 years with Kabila at the helm.

While the handover eased fears that the country would plunge again into civil strife, Tshisekedi has faced a bumpy ride and the sprawling coalition remains a source of tensions.

AFP

DR Congo Declares End To Ebola Epidemic In East

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 09, 2019 Health workers are seen inside the ‘red zone’ of an Ebola treatment centre, which was attacked in the early hours of the morning in Butembo. – Democratic Republic of Congo’s government on June 25, 2020 officially declared an end to an epidemic of Ebola that broke out in the east of the troubled country in August 2018 and went on to claim 2,277 lives. JOHN WESSELS / AFP.

 

DR Congo on Thursday officially declared an end to an Ebola epidemic that broke out in the east of the troubled country two years ago and went on to claim over 2,000 lives.

The outbreak was “the longest, most complex and deadliest” in the 60-year history of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Health Minister Eteni Longondo said.

It has only been surpassed by the 2013-16 Ebola epidemic in West Africa that killed 11,300 people.

On June 1, as the epidemic in the east waned, a new outbreak — the DRC’s 11th since Ebola was identified in 1976 — was announced in the country’s northwest.

For an outbreak to be officially over, there have to be no new cases reported for 42 days, which is double the incubation period of the deadly haemorrhagic microbe.

The eastern outbreak was just three days from reaching the finishing line in April when a new case was reported. Further cases meant that the clock was restarted on May 14.

READ ALSO: UN Urges ‘Moratorium’ On Facial Recognition Tech Use In Protests

The World Health Organization (WHO) reacted with joy to Thursday’s announcement from the biggest country in sub-Saharan Africa.

“#Ebola outbreak in #DRC is OVER! WHO congratulates all those involved in this tough and often dangerous work to end the almost 2-year long outbreak,” it said on Twitter.

The DRC is also struggling with the new coronavirus, with 6,411 cases including 142 fatalities, and measles, which has killed more than 6,000 people since early 2019 .

– ‘Chronic insecurity’ –

The epidemic in the east broke out in August 2018 and killed a total of 2,227 people.

It was declared by the WHO in July 2019 to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern — a move that steps up international support — given the epicentre’s close proximity to neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda.

The worst-hit area was North Kivu, a province battered by militia killings and ethnic violence.

“Chronic insecurity” helped make the epidemic “highly complex,” Longondo said.

Eleven workers and patients were killed, including a Cameroonian doctor, the UN said.

Two experimental vaccines were brought in to help roll back the disease.

More than 320,000 people received the jab, and the success means that “people are demanding to have the vaccine. It makes the campaign easier,” said Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe, in charge of the anti-Ebola fight.

The Ebola virus is passed on by contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected or recently deceased person.

It has a natural reservoir in nature, which is believed to be a species of bat.

The death rate is typically high, ranging up to 90 percent in some outbreaks, according to the WHO.

The northwest’s outbreak, about 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) away from the one in the east, is focused on Mbandaka, a transport hub on the Congo River in the province of Equateur.

It has claimed 13 lives out of 24 cases, according to the WHO.

Equateur was previously hit by Ebola between May and July 2018. Thirty-three people died.

– Lessons from outbreak –

Ebola experts said the experience of the eastern outbreak would be vital for informing further action against Ebola.

One problem was an influx of wealth among health workers and their escorts in the armed forces — guards were given per-diem expenses of $300-400 per month in a country where per-income capita is around $500 a year.

The river of money created envy that militia groups readily exploited, they said.

“Questionable practices in the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including payments to security forces, renting vehicles at inflated prices, and job kickback schemes, may have jeopardised humanitarian operations and put lives at risk,” a specialised news site, The New Humanitarian, said in an investigation published on June 18.

An AFP reporter found that a lucrative business had developed in job appointments, with middle men creaming off commission, and some women said they had been pressed to provide sexual services in exchange for work.

AFP

EU Launches Anti-Virus Air Bridge For DR Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, is a country located in Central Africa

 

The European Union will on Sunday launch a humanitarian air bridge to support the fight against the coronavirus in the Democratic Republic of Congo, officials said Friday.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian, his Belgian counterpart Philippe Goffin and European Commissioner for crisis management Janez Lenarcic will travel to Kinshasa on the flight, from Brussels.

On Monday, they will meet President Felix Tshisekedi in the capital, before travelling to the eastern city of Goma, in the troubled region on the border with Rwanda.

More flights will carry at least 40 tonnes of aid such as water purifiers, and medical supplies. provided by the EU, governments and humanitarian agencies.

So far, Africa has been spared the worst of the pandemic, with only 4,755 deaths recorded and 170,286 cases compared to more than 180,000 deaths and two million cases in Europe.

But poorer countries like the DRC would struggle to cope if the outbreak intensifies and Brussels has set aside 3.25 billion euros ($3.67 billion) in grants and 1.4 billion euros in loans to help countries through the crisis.

DR Congo Reports Fresh Ebola Outbreak

Activists walk along the street during a COVID-19 coronavirus awareness campaign in Kinshasa on May 29, 2020. SAMIR TOUNSI / AFP
Activists walk along the street during a COVID-19 coronavirus awareness campaign in Kinshasa on May 29, 2020. SAMIR TOUNSI / AFP

 

DR Congo reported a fresh Ebola outbreak in its northwest on Monday, the latest health emergency for a country already fighting an epidemic of the deadly fever in the east as well as a surging number of coronavirus infections.

The 11th Ebola outbreak in the vast central African country’s history comes just weeks before it had hoped to declare the end of the 10th in the east.

Health Minister Eteni Longondo said that “four people have already died” from Ebola in a district of the northwestern city of Mbandaka.

“The National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) has confirmed to me that samples from Mbandaka tested positive for Ebola,” Longondo told a press conference on Monday.

“We will send them the vaccine and medicine very quickly,” he said, adding that he planned to visit the site of the outbreak at the end of the week.

The capital of Equateur province, Mbandaka is a transport hub on the Congo River with a population of more than a million.

Equateur province was previously hit by an Ebola outbreak between May and July 2018, in which 33 people died and 21 recovered from the disease.

“This is a province that has already experienced the disease. They know how to respond. They started the response at the local level yesterday (Sunday),” Longondo said.

The eastern epidemic

The Ebola epidemic in the country’s east has killed 2,280 people since August 2018, and officials had hoped to be able to proclaim it over on June 25.

For it to be officially over, there have to be no new cases reported for 42 days — double the incubation period.

The eastern epidemic was just three days away from being declared over on April 10 when a new case was reported.

Seven new cases were then recorded, including four deaths, two recoveries and one patient who fled, and the clock was restarted on May 14.

The World Health Organization also extended its Public Health Emergency of International Concern designation for the epidemic, which has mainly affected the North Kivu province.

Two experimental vaccines have been widely deployed to fight the outbreak, with more than 300,000 people vaccinated across the country.

However efforts to contain Ebola in the east have been hindered by attacks on health workers and conflicts in the country’s volatile region, long riven by militia killings and ethnic violence.

The eastern Ebola outbreak is the second-worst in history, after an epidemic in 2014 killed about 11,000 people — mostly in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

Coronavirus, measles

The newest Ebola outbreak is the 11th in the Democratic Republic of Congo since the highly contagious haemorrhagic fever was identified in 1976 in Equateur province in the country then known as Zaire.

The virus is passed on by contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected or recently deceased person.

The death rate is typically high, ranging up to 90 percent in some outbreaks, according to the WHO.

The country is also fighting its own surging coronavirus outbreak, recording 3,195 infections — 2,896 in the capital Kinshasa — and 72 deaths, according to official figures released Monday.

“We are in an ascending period of the curve,” Longondo said, adding that it was still too “risky” to lift measures imposed on March 20 to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Under the measures, travel is banned between Kinshasa and the rest of the country.

No coronavirus cases have been reported in Equateur province. Mbandaka is 600 kilometres (370 miles) from Kinshasa, but the two cities are connected by the Congo river, with a trip down it taking about a week.

DR Congo’s coronavirus frontman, virologist Jean-Jacques Muyembe, first identified Ebola in 1976 along with Belgian Peter Piot.

“I have devoted all my life and all my career to fighting Ebola,” Muyembe has said.

The country is also facing a measles outbreak which has killed more than 6,000 people since early last year, as well as recurring flare-ups of cholera and malaria.

14 Boys Raped By Fake Pastor In DR Congo – Hospital

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa

 

Fourteen boys were raped by a man posing as a pastor in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the Panzi Foundation said Tuesday. 

The Bukavu charity hospital founded by Denis Mukwege, the Nobel laureate and gynaecologist hailed for his work with rape victims, said the children were admitted last month “in a state of suffering and psychological stress”.

The 30-year-old alleged attacker was arrested in late April, civil activist Julien Namegabe told AFP.

The victims came from different families and ranged in age from eight to 15.

The suspect “bought their silence with small gifts for several weeks” according to the Panzi Foundation.

Evariste Kajibwami, a clinical psychologist who has been following the boys since their admission to the hospital, said on the foundation’s website that they “presented a mixture of sadness, fear and shame”.

The foundation said it would help the victims “until justice was done”.

Mukwege has treated thousands of women who were raped during conflicts in eastern DR Congo over the past quarter-century.

He was a joint winner of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for “efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict”.

His foundation has been involved in at least two trials before the military justice system.

In 2017, a local militia member of parliament was sentenced to life imprisonment for raping around 40 girls in Kavumu near Bukavu.

In November, a warlord was convicted of raping women and at least one girl in early 2018.

 

AFP

DR Congo Reports 41 COVID-19 Cases In Overcrowded Jail

A picture taken on April 25, 2020, shows the completely deserted Boulevard du 30-Juin in the residential commune of Gombe in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, during a COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus. SAMIR TOUNSI / AFP

 

At least 41 coronavirus cases have been recorded in an overcrowded military prison outside DR Congo’s capital Kinshasa, health authorities said Friday.

Health Minister Eteni Longondo told TopCongo radio that prisoners at the Ndolo jail were still being tested but he expected the number of cases to rise.

Longondo said the current hypothesis was that “a woman who came to leave food” at the jail had transmitted the virus.

Human Rights Watch warned last month that poor conditions in overcrowded DR Congo jails such as Kinshasa’s Makala prison — filled to more than four times capacity — were a likely virus breeding ground.

The government said on April 8 that at least 1,200 prisoners had been released in order to help stop the virus spread.

To date the vast central African country, one of the world’s poorest, has reported 572 confirmed cases — almost all in Kinshasa — and 31 deaths.

Authorities confirmed 72 new cases on Thursday, all in the capital except one at Kasindi on the Ugandan border, the largest daily rise since the country’s first on March 10.

WHO Emergency Committee Meets On Ebola After New DRC Case

WHO Urges Unity After Trump Attack
A TV grab taken from a video released by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attending a virtual news briefing on COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) from the WHO headquarters in Geneva on April 6, 2020. AFP

 

The WHO said its emergency committee would meet Tuesday to discuss whether the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo still constitutes an international health emergency, after fresh cases were detected.

The meeting comes a day after DR Congo had been expected to announce that the outbreak in the east of the country that began in August 2018 was over.

The epidemic has killed 2,276 people to date. For it to be declared over, there have to be no new cases reported for 42 days — double the incubation period.

But as the World Health Organization’s emergency committee met last Friday to determine whether its declaration of a so-called Public Health Emergency of International Concern, or PHEIC, could be lifted, a new case was reported.

“We now have three cases, two people who have died, one person who is alive,” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters in a virtual briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.

She said that all of the contacts of those cases had been traced and vaccinated and were being followed closely.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: IMF Approves Debt Relief For 25 Poor Countries

DR Congo health authorities announced Friday that a 26-year-old man was listed as having died from the disease, and a young girl who was being treated in the same health centre passed away on Sunday.

Both died in the city of Beni, epicentre of the outbreak.

Due to the shifting situation, the WHO decided to reconvene its emergency committee to again evaluate whether or not the outbreak still constitutes an international health emergency, Harris said.

It was scheduled to announce its decision later Tuesday.

DR Congo has meanwhile started a new 42-day countdown to declare an end to its 10th epidemic of the deadly haemorrhagic fever disease.

AFP

DR Congo Hopes To Declare End To Ebola Outbreak In April

 

DR Congo health officials said Monday they were “keeping fingers crossed” to declare the end of the devastating 19-month epidemic next month.

While the world’s attention has been focused on the coronavirus, the last patient under treatment for Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo was discharged on Tuesday.

If no more cases are diagnosed, the epidemic will officially end on April 12, or 42 days from the date of the last confirmed patient’s second negative test.

“Today, March 9 is the 21st day without any new confirmed case,” said Jean-Jacques Muyembe, who is in charge of the Ebola fight.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed that until then, there are no incidents,” he told a news conference.

“The greatest challenge for us today is to follow up on survivors because some continue to secrete the virus in their seminal fluids,” he said, adding that they were being treated to avoid infecting their partners.

READ ALSO: Burkina Faso Attacks Kill 43

DR Congo’s most recent Ebola outbreak was first identified in August 2018, and WHO declared it a “public health emergency of international concern” last July.

It has killed 2,264 people in DR Congo in the vast central African country’s 10th Ebola epidemic since 1976.

It is the second-most deadly Ebola epidemic in history after an outbreak that killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa from 2013 to 2016.

Since that time, the health authorities have gained a more powerful weapon against the disease: vaccination. Nearly 320,00 people have been vaccinated so far in DR Congo.

AFP

WHO Seeks $20m To Fight Ebola In DR Congo

World Health Organization (WHO) Assistant Director-General Ibrahima-Soce Fall attends a press conference on the WHO Ebola operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on March 6, 2020 in Geneva. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
World Health Organization (WHO) Assistant Director-General Ibrahima-Soce Fall attends a press conference on the WHO Ebola operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on March 6, 2020 in Geneva. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

The World Health Organization said Friday it needs $20 million to fight Ebola in DR Congo, even as the end of the devastating 19-month epidemic finally seemed within grasp. 

While the world’s attention has been focused on the coronavirus, the last patient being treated for Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo was discharged on Tuesday.

If no more cases are diagnosed, the epidemic will officially end within 42 days from the date of the last confirmed patient’s second negative test.

“The end of the outbreak will be declared on April 12” barring further cases, WHO assistant director-general for emergency response Ibrahima Soce Fall told the media in Geneva on Friday.

But he issued a note of warning, saying “it is critical to maintain surveillance and rapid response capacity” in order to quickly diagnose any new cases.

“We have over 1,169 survivors. So we have an important programme to continue to provide care to survivors, but also to make sure that we don’t have any flare-ups,” he added.

“We know that the focus is more now on COVID-19, but… we still need an additional $20 million for WHO to maintain the team on the ground because Ebola is also a matter of global health security.”

DR Congo’s most recent Ebola outbreak was first identified in August 2018 and WHO declared it a “public health emergency of international concern” last July.

It has killed 2,264 people in DR Congo, the vast central African country’s tenth Ebola epidemic since 1976.

It is the second-most deadly Ebola epidemic in history, after an outbreak killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa from 2013 to 2016.

Since that time, the health authorities have gained a more powerful weapon against the disease: vaccination. Nearly 320,00 people have been vaccinated so far in DR Congo.

 

AFP