Eight Die In DRC Concert Stampede

DR Congo flag.

 

A stampede left seven spectators and one police officer dead during a packed concert by African music star Fally Ipupa at the biggest stadium in DR Congo’s capital, the police chief told official press agency ACP on Sunday.

“There were eight deaths including one police officer,” general Sylvain Sasongo said.

The Martyrs’ stadium has an 80,000 capacity and reports said it was absolutely full for the local favourite, with one witness saying “even the corridors” of the stadium were overflowing.

“It was a stampede,” that caused the deaths, a policeman on the scene told the official Congolese Press Agency. “The music lovers suffocated.”

The agency, which had reporters in the stadium covering the concert, said police had cordoned off three areas to secure the pitch, the VIP stand and the stage.

“Under the pressure of the crowd, the police could not hold out long,” ACP said.

Singer-songwriter Fally Ipupa, “like all Congolese singers”, had arrived several hours after the show had been scheduled to start, the agency noted.

The Kinshasa-born 44-year-old is one of Africa’s leading musicians whose albums sell worldwide.

AFP

Suspected ADF Militia Kill 23 In New Eastern DR Congo Massacre

A DR Congo flag.

 

Suspected ADF militia fighters have killed 23 people in a new massacre in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a senior local official said Wednesday.

Fighters attacked Beu Manyama-Moliso village in the restive Beni region late on Tuesday night, North Kivu provincial governor Carly Nzanzu Kasivita told AFP.

The army intervened, killing two assailants, he said.

“We are in mourning, the ADF carried out a raid and killed more than 20 people,” said Noella Katongerwaki Muliwavyo, president of an association of grassroots groups in Beni.

Beu Manyama-Moliso is a small village located in remote forests in the Beni region, close to the boundary with Ituri province.

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A historically Ugandan Islamist group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) is the bloodiest of scores of armed militias that roam eastern DRC, many of them a legacy of two regional wars in the 1990s.

The ADF is linked to the so-called Islamic State (IS) group, the United States said earlier this month.

According to the Kivu Security Tracker, an NGO that monitors violence in the DRC’s troubled east, the group has killed more than 1,200 civilians in the Beni area alone since 2017.

On March 19, the UN said a surge of ADF attacks since the start of the year had claimed nearly 200 lives and forced 40,000 people to flee their homes.

At least 17 were killed in separate attacks on March 23.

– Regional military outreach –
Separately, the DR Congo’s army said it had reached out to the militaries of neighbouring countries to help “neutralise” armed groups in the troubled east.

The armed forces “have undertaken contacts with all the armies in neighbouring countries for drawing up appropriate strategies for permanently resolving the thorny question of insecurity” in the Great Lakes region, it said on Tuesday.

Its statement, signed by army spokesman General Leon-Richard Kasonga, said the DRC was in favour of “strengthening military cooperation, regular consultation between armies in the region… (and) pooling efforts and intelligence.”

According to the Congo Research Group, a monitoring project with New York University, a Rwandan military delegation led by armed forces chief of staff Jean-Bosco Kazura discreetly flew to Kinshasa on March 15 for talks on military cooperation.

Relations between the DRC and its neighbours, especially Rwanda, have been stormy.

The DRC has accused Rwanda of seeking to destabilise it, while Rwanda has charged the DRC with being a rear base for armed opposition groups, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

Past cooperative missions to wipe out armed groups have failed and run into hostility among the DRC’s public.

An estimated 122 armed groups roam eastern DRC, according to the KST.

AFP

 200 Killed, 40,000 Displaced In DR Congo By ADF Militia Since Jan – UN

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

 

Nearly 200 people have been killed and 40,000 displaced since January following a surge of attacks by the ADF militia in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN said Friday.

The United Nations refugee agency reported an “alarming increase” in attacks by the notorious Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) — a historically Ugandan Islamist group present in eastern DR Congo since 1995.

Since the start of the year, attacks blamed on the ADF “have killed nearly 200 people, injured dozens of others, and displaced an estimated 40,000 people in DRC’s Beni Territory in North Kivu province as well as nearby villages in Ituri province,” UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch said.

“In less than three months, the ADF has allegedly raided 25 villages, set fire to dozens of houses and kidnapped over 70 people,” he told reporters in Geneva.

The ADF has the reputation of being the bloodiest of the 122 militias that plague the eastern DRC. It killed an estimated 465 people in 2020.

According to the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), an NGO that monitors violence in the DRC’s troubled east, the group has killed more than 1,200 civilians in the Beni area alone since 2017.

The massacres have become more frequent since the army launched an offensive in October 2019, forcing the ADF to break up into smaller, highly mobile units, say experts.

Baloch said the latest surge in attacks appeared to be due to reprisals by armed groups, their search for food and medicine and accusations against communities of sharing information on ADF positions.

– Funding shortage –
Those forcibly displaced this past month had fled to the towns of Oicha, Beni and Butembo.

“The majority are women and children, as men stay behind to protect properties, exposing themselves to the risk of further attacks,” Baloch said.

The displaced people, he said, were now living in dire conditions, without shelter, food, water or health care.

Families also lack essential items such as blankets and cooking materials — a major concern in the context of Ebola and Covid-19.

Even before the recent mass displacement, some 100,000 internally displaced people were already in need of shelter and protection in Beni, according to UNHCR figures.

But funding shortages were seriously limiting the agency’s ability to provide shelters and other aid, Baloch warned.

Last year, UNHCR was able to build more than 43,000 family shelters in eastern DRC, but this year, it so far has funding to build just a tenth of that.

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“Only 4,400 families can be assisted out of hundreds of thousands in need,” Baloch said, adding that a vital cash programme for displaced women at risk had also been cut due to lacking funds.

The UN refugee agency urgently needs $2 million (1.7 million euros) to beef up its response in Beni and in Irumu Territory in Ituri, he said.

As of now, the $33 million the agency has requested to provide assistance throughout eastern DRC in 2021 is only 5.5-percent funded.

AFP

DRC Army Says Killed 16 Fighters In New Offensive

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 army in Democratic Republic of Congo said Monday it had killed 16 militiamen for the loss of three soldiers in a three-day push against an armed group in the country’s northeast.

Since Friday, “the army neutralised 16 elements from the Patriotic and Integrationist Congo Forces (FPIC) and captured seven more,” said Jules Ngongo, an army spokesman in Ituri province.

“Two of their fortified villages are now under the control of loyalist soldiers,” he added, while “three brave soldiers, including an officer” had been killed.

“Search and followup operations are continuing,” Lieutenant Ngongo said.

The FPIC is one of an estimate least 122 armed groups tallied in Congo’s four eastern border provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu and Tanganyika in a recent report from analysts at the Kivu Security Tracker (KST).

It is “made up of mainly young Bira” people angry at being excluded from the provincial government and eager to regain lands occupied by Hema people, the KST says.

Several residents of the Irumu territory in Ituri province told AFP that the militia have also attacked the Alur community.

In early 2020, the FPIC set a police station and a government office on fire, the same residents said.

AFP

Italy Seeks UN Probe Into DRC Envoy’s Killing

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio looks on as he prepares to address parliament in Rome on February 24, 2021 on the death of the Italian ambassador in an attack in DR Congo. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / POOL / AFP)

 

Italy said Wednesday it has asked the United Nations to launch an investigation into the killing of its ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The envoy, Luca Attanasio, 43, died on Monday after a World Food Programme (WFP) convoy was ambushed in a dangerous part of the eastern DRC near the border with Rwanda.

Attanasio’s Italian bodyguard and a Congolese driver were also killed.

“We have formally asked WFP (World Food Programme) and the UN to open an investigation to clarify what happened, the reasons behind the security arrangements used and who was responsible for these decisions,” Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told parliament.

Di Maio’s comments came the morning after the bodies of the two Italians were returned by military plane to Rome.

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“We expect, in the briefest possible time, clear and exhaustive answers,” Di Maio said.

On Monday, the DRC’s interior ministry blamed the killings on the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Rwandan Hutu rebel group.

But the FDLR rejected the allegation and instead blamed the Rwandan and DRC militaries.

Di Maio said the party was relying on UN protocol during the trip from the capital Kinshasa to Goma, some 2,500 kilometres (1,550 miles) east, but that Attanasio had “full power” to decide how and where to move within DRC.

“The mission took place at the invitation of the United Nations. So even the car journey took place within the organisational framework set up by the World Food Programme,” Di Maio.

The WFP is a branch of the UN which focuses on hunger and food security, and which was awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize.

Di Maio said a team of Italian police had already been dispatched to the DRC for an initial investigation and others would follow.

– Opened fire –

In addressing the Chamber of Deputies, Di Maio provided preliminary details of how the attack on the two vehicles unfolded in the mountainous, thickly forested area about 25 kilometres from Goma, between 10am and 11am local time.

Six attackers “allegedly forced the vehicles to stop by placing obstacles on the road and firing several shots from small arms in the air,” Di Maio said.

Although the sound of gunfire attracted park rangers from the nearby Virunga National Park, a wildlife reserve, and army soldiers, the attackers ordered the members of the convoy out of the vehicles and into the bush, Di Maio said, citing information from the governor of North Kivu.

“The governor added that in order to force their victims to leave the road and enter the bush, the assailants killed the WFP driver. According to initial reconstructions of the WFP, the assailants then drove the rest of the members into the forest,” he said.

Upon the arrival of the armed park rangers at the site, the attackers “opened fire on the (bodyguard) soldier, killing him, and on the Italian ambassador, seriously wounding him.”

Attanasio was later evacuated to a hospital in Goma, where he died.

The DRC interior ministry said Monday that security services and provincial authorities had not been informed in advance of Attanasio’s trip.

But the WFP said the road on which the attack occurred had previously been cleared for travel without security escorts.

Crowd Lynches Two Suspected Militants As UN Envoy Visits DRC

People gather in Oicha, on November 29, 2019, as 27 victims of the latest massacre in the country’s volatile east were being buried, with hundreds paying homage while lashing out at security forces for failing to stop attacks. Bienvenu-Marie BAKUMANYA / AFP

 

 

A crowd in eastern DR Congo on Saturday lynched two people they suspected of being members of a militia blamed for the killing of more than 100 civilians over the past month, an AFP journalist said.

The killings came on the same day that the United Nations peacekeeping chief arrived in eastern DR Congo where anti-UN protests have erupted since the militia attacks.

Munitions were found in the bags of the two people, a man and a woman dressed in civilian clothes, in the town of Beni.

The crowd of several dozen people accused them of being members of the Allied Democratic Forces, a shadowy armed group with links to Ugandan Islamists, the journalist said.

The arrival of UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix in Beni came several days after an angry mob stormed a UN base in the town in protest over a perceived failure of peacekeepers to stop militia violence.

Lacroix will visit the base of the UN mission, known by its French acronym MONUSCO, mobbed by protesters on Monday, and hold talks with the Congolese army and local authorities, a UN spokesman said.

At least seven people have been killed in clashes during the anti-UN protests this week.

– Hacked to death –

The east of the Democratic Republic of Congo has been troubled for years by militia violence, but most recent attacks are blamed on the Allied Democratic Forces or ADF, a shadowy armed group with links to Ugandan Islamists.

DR Congo forces launched operations against the ADF in the restive eastern region at the end of October. But in response the ADF has carried out massacres, in an apparent bid to discourage civilians from helping the military.

Another 27 people were hacked to death on Wednesday, bringing the number of people killed in militia violence to 107 since November 5 in and around Beni.

The European Union has also condemned the “cowardly attacks” by armed groups and called for perpetrators to be bought to justice.

“Closer cooperation is needed between the FARDC (Congolese armed forces) and MONUSCO to reinforce protective measures for civilians,” the European Union spokesman said in a statement on Friday.

MONUSCO, one of the biggest UN peacekeeping operations in the world, today comprises more than 16,500 military personnel and observers, 1,300 police and at least 4,000 civilians.

But it has struggled to make progress in a vast country beset by armed groups as well as an Ebola epidemic, poverty and poor governance.

Responding to criticism of inaction, MONUSCO says its troops are unable to deploy in combat without the approval of the host country and in coordination with national forces.

The DR Congo presidency earlier this week announced joint military operations with the UN to reestablish security in the Beni area.

AFP

Ebola Still An ‘Urgent’ Global Health Emergency – WHO

 

The deadly Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) remains an “urgent” global health emergency, The World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday at its Emergency Committee meeting.

DRC’s latest Ebola epidemic, which began in August 2018, has killed 2,144 people, making it the second deadliest outbreak of the virus, after the West Africa pandemic of 2014-2016.

“The public health emergency will be maintained for an additional three months”, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference.

“This outbreak remains a complex and dangerous outbreak,” he said, deploring the lack of funding.

The status of a global health emergency is an exceptional measure that has been used by the WHO four times: in 2009 for the Swine flu virus, in 2014 for polio, in 2014 for the Ebola epidemic which killed more than 11,000 in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and in 2016 for the Zika virus.

Last week, the director of the WHO Emergency Program, Michael Ryan, expressed “cautious optimism” that the epidemic was confined to a smaller region.

The DRC health ministry said earlier this week Ebola had returned to Ituri province in the north-east of the country after nearly 300 days without any new cases.

“The number of cases has declined each week for the past four weeks. But these encouraging trends should be interpreted with caution,” Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“The area is a very complex area, it’s a very volatile area. We have made very significant progress, the number of cases have plummeted.

“But if there is insecurity incidents, we may lose what we have gained so far.”

Since the most recent Ebola outbreak, a vaccine a developed by Merck Sharp and Dohme has been used on more than 230,000 people.

On Friday, the vaccine which has yet to be licensed, received a green light from The European Medicines Agency (EMA) in a step towards its commercialisation.

A second experimental vaccine manufactured by the Belgian subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson is to be introduced in November, according to DR Congo medical officials.

DRC Approves Use Of Second Experimental Ebola Vaccine

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is to introduce a second vaccine next month to combat the Ebola virus, which has killed more than 2,100 people in the country, /AFP

 

The Democratic Republic of Congo will introduce a second Ebola vaccine next month, the World Health Organization said Monday, as a top medical charity accused the UN agency of rationing doses of the main drug to protect against the disease.

DRC’s latest Ebola epidemic, which began in August 2018, has killed more than 2,100 people, making it the second deadliest outbreak of the virus, after the West Africa pandemic of 2014-2016.

Ebola fighters have been hindered by chronic insecurity in the affected provinces of eastern DRC, but much of the controversy surrounding the response has centred on the use of vaccines.

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More than 223,000 people living in active Ebola transmission zones have received a vaccination produced by the pharma giant Merck.

The WHO has for month been pushing Kinshasa to approve the use of a second experimental product, made by Johnson & Johnson, to protect those living outside of direct transmission zones.

The J&J vaccine had been rejected by DRC’s former health minister Oly Ilunga, who cited the risks of introducing a new product in communities where mistrust of Ebola responders is already high.

But Ilunga’s resignation in July appeared to pave the way for approval of the second vaccine.

In a statement issued on Monday, the health ministry said the second vaccine would be used as a “preventive” measure, given the risk that stocks of the Merck vaccine could run out if the epidemic persists.

The ministry said it had scrutinised candidate Ebola vaccines, and “the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has most scientific data… it is not toxic and can provide protection.”

“This vaccine presents no danger to the public,” the statement said, adding that the first priority would be to use it to inoculate “Congolese traders who regularly visit Rwanda.”

“We must also protect Rwanda”, it said.

The WHO said in a statement that DRC planned to introduce the J&J product from “mid-October.”

“This vaccine, which is given as a 2-dose course, 56 days apart, will be provided under approved protocols to targeted at-risk populations in areas that do not have active Ebola transmission as an additional tool to extend protection against the virus.”

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised the latest decision by DRC authorities, who he said “have once again shown leadership and their determination to end this outbreak as soon as possible”.

– ‘Rationing’? –
Doctors Without Borders, which has repeatedly criticised WHO’s leadership of the Ebola response, levelled fresh criticism against the agency on Monday.

“One of the main problems currently is the fact that, in practice, the (Merck) vaccine is rationed by the WHO and that too few people at risk are protected today,” the charity known by its French acronym MSF said in a statement.

In an interview with AFP in July, MSF’s international president Joanne Liu called on WHO to vaccinate whole villages where Ebola cases had emerged, rather than simply targeting the contacts of those infected.

The charity also renewed its complaints over “the opaque management of the vaccine supplied by the World Health Organization.”

“It’s like giving firefighters a bucket of water to put out a fire, but only allowing them to use one cup of water a day,” Natalie Roberts, MSF’s emergency coordinator,” said in a statement.

“Merck recently stated that in addition to the 245,000 doses already delivered to WHO, they are ready to ship another 190,000 doses if required and that 650,000 additional doses will be available over the next six to 18 months,” MSF said.

The charity also called for the creation of “an independent international coordination committee” to “guarantee the transparency of the management of stocks and data sharing”.

– ‘Everything possible’ –
The WHO denied limiting the availability of the vaccine, saying it was doing “everything possible” to end the epidemic.

“Along with the DRC government, no-one wants to bring this epidemic to an end more than WHO,” the agency’s emergency director, Mike Ryan, said in a statement.

The WHO is “not limiting access to the vaccine but rather implementing a strategy recommended by an independent advisory body of experts,” Ryan added.

The agency said last week that as of September 17, DRC had registered a total of 3,145 cases of Ebola since the outbreak began over a year ago, including 2,103 deaths.

It has declared the Ebola epidemic a “public health emergency of international concern”, a rare designation used only for the gravest epidemics.

Ebola Death Toll Crosses 2,000 DR Congo Ahead Of UN chief’s Visit

Health workers participating in an Ebola preparedness drill. AFP photo.

 

The Ebola outbreak in DR Congo showed no signs of easing Friday on the eve of the UN chief’s visit to the country, with the death toll from the highly contagious virus crossing 2,000 and a new fatality in neighbouring Uganda.

The latest casualty in Uganda was a nine-year-old girl from the Democratic Republic of Congo, reviving fears that the virus could cross the porous borders of the central African country, where it erupted in August last year.

DR Congo health officials said late Thursday that there have been “2,006 deaths (1,901 confirmed and 105 probable)” since August 2018. adding that 902 people had been cured.

The toll is a setback coming a day before UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visits for a first-hand assessment of the fightback.

Guterres wants to “express support for the teams engaged in the Ebola fightback,” the UN said.

More than 200,000 people have been vaccinated during DR Congo’s tenth and most serious Ebola epidemic.

It is the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history after more than 11,000 people were killed in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia between 2014 and 2016.

Containment efforts have been hindered by conflict in eastern DRC as well as attacks on Ebola fighters within affected communities.

“For the moment, the situation is better than the past weeks. But in certain zones, there are many cases of community resistance. These are the zones which have brought forth the most confirmed cases,” Robert Bahidika Nasekwa from Oxfam said.

“As a result, those who came in contact with confirmed cases have not been followed up,” he said.

Jean-Edmond Bwanakawa Masumbuko, the mayor of Beni — a major city which Guterres is due to visit — said some people “had the tendency of viewing Ebola treatment centres as deathtraps.

“Out of the city’s 14 zones, there are only four which continue to pose problems,” he said.

Fourth Uganda death

The nine-year-old girl who tested positive in Uganda after travelling from DR Congo died early Friday, a Ugandan health official told AFP.

“She passed on at around 0800 (0500 GMT) this morning,” said Yusuf Baseka, health director in Kasese, a district in southwestern Uganda along the border with DR Congo.

The child was diagnosed after exhibiting symptoms at a border crossing in Kasese on Wednesday.

She was subsequently isolated and transferred to an Ebola treatment unit.

The girl is the fourth victim diagnosed with Ebola in Uganda, which has been on high alert since last year, to have died from the virus.

In June, three members of a single-family tested positive after entering from DR Congo. Two died in Uganda, while the third succumbed to the disease after returning to DR Congo.

The outbreak of the haemorrhagic virus began in the North Kivu province in eastern DR Congo on August 1, 2018, and spread to the neighbouring Ituri province.

The pathogen causes fever, vomiting and severe diarrhoea, often followed by kidney and liver failure, and internal and external bleeding.

The disease is spread by contact with infected bodily fluids and is fought with the time-honoured but laborious techniques of tracing contacts and quarantining them.

Stepped up checks

The WHO has declared the epidemic a “public health emergency of international concern”.

The virus has also spread to DR Congo’s South Kivu province, which shares a land border with Rwanda and Burundi.

Screening is vital but imperfect.

Ebola can take up to three weeks to incubate and cannot be spread until the infected person has symptoms, the WHO says.

But it can be difficult to clinically tell Ebola from malaria, typhoid fever or meningitis.

Uganda has stepped up checks for hundreds of schoolchildren who cross over from DR Congo every day to attend school there as jobs and educational opportunities are greater.

But it is not without inconvenience.

“Sometimes we get to school late, because we have to be in line for checking and it takes time,” said Doreane Kambari, a 16-year-old attending high school in Bwera in Kasese.

AFP

Ebola Cases In DR Congo Break 2,000 Mark

 

DR Congo’s health ministry said it had recorded more than 2,000 cases of Ebola, two-thirds of which had been fatal, since the disease broke out in the country’s east 10 months ago.

“Since the start of the epidemic, the total number of cases stands at 2,008, of which 1,914 have been confirmed [by lab test] while 94 are probable,” it said in an update issued late Monday.

“In all, there have been 1,346 deaths (1,252 confirmed and 94 probable) and 539 people have recovered.”

The ministry said it was important to retain the overall perspective, despite the breaching of the symbolic threshold of 2,000 cases.

“In recent weeks, the trend has been positive, although vigilance is still necessary,” it said.

There have been fewer attacks on Ebola teams by armed groups, which means health workers have “recovered some of the lost time to contain the spread of the epidemic,” it said.

The epidemic was first declared in North Kivu province on August 1 and then spread to neighbouring Ituri, although there have not been any cases in neighbouring countries.

Oxfam’s director for the DRC, Corinne N’Daw, said “it is clear the current response to tackle Ebola isn’t working. No matter how effective treatment is, if people don’t trust or understand it, they will not use it.”

She added: “Our teams are still meeting people on a daily basis who don’t believe Ebola is real… many cases are going unnoticed because people with symptoms have been avoiding treatment.”

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies also voiced its concern.

“Worryingly, the number of Ebola cases has increased significantly in recent weeks to between 15-20 new cases per day,” it said in a press release.

It called for a “reset” of the response, combining scaled-up aid with a greater role for local people in carrying it out.

Efforts to tackle the crisis have been hampered both by militia attacks on treatment centres and by the hostility of some local people to the medical teams.

Five workers have been killed, according to an AFP tally, and important preventative work, such as vaccination programmes and burials of Ebola victims, has been delayed, said N’Daw.

The outbreak is the 10th in Democratic Republic of Congo since the disease was identified in 1976.

It is the worst on record after an epidemic that struck three African countries between 2014-2016, leaving more than 11,300 people dead.

On May 23, the World Health Organization (WHO) appointed David Gressly, serving as the UN’s deputy special representative in DR Congo, to coordinate the global response to the epidemic.

At Least 18 Die In DR Congo In Acid Truck Accident

 

At least 18 people were killed in DR Congo’s mining belt on Wednesday when a truck laden with industrial acid collided with a bus, spewing its contents on passengers, sources said.

The accident happened near the village of Fungurume, in the heart of a copper and cobalt mining area between Lubumbashi and Kolwezi in the southeast.

“A Tanzanian-registered tanker truck carrying acid hit a stationary bus. The acid poured out onto the passengers,” police captain Corneille Lwitetele, in charge of road traffic in Lualaba province, told AFP on Thursday.

He gave a toll of 21 dead and 12 injured, while Lualaba’s provincial health minister, Samy Kayombo, gave a figure of 18 dead and 12 injured with burns.

The UN radio channel Okapi said the damaged truck continued to spill its contents until midday on Thursday, and acid flowed as far as the village of Kabwe.

Traffic on the busy highway resumed at midnight Wednesday, police said.

Acid is widely used in mining to leach metal from rock.

Road accidents are tragically common in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the main causes being poor road surfaces, excessive speed and badly-maintained vehicles.

AFP

President Buhari Congratulates Tshisekedi Of DRC On Election, Inauguration

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated the newly elected President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on his victory and inauguration.

The President’s felicitation was contained in a statement by his special media aide, Femi Adesina.

President Buhari commended the Government and people of DRC for their determination and commitment to democratic principles, which resulted in the first peaceful transfer of democratic power since independence in 1960.

He also saluted the Congolese people for peacefully exercising their franchise during the national elections in their country.

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“Following the affirmation of President Tshisekedi’s victory at the December 30, 2018 polls, by the Constitutional Court of the country, President Buhari urges all Congolese, especially political stakeholders to rally behind the new leader and support his vision to build ‘‘a modern, peaceful, democratic State for every citizen,’’ as succinctly expressed in his inauguration speech on Thursday.

“Recognizing the important role played by former President Joseph Kabila in the historic electoral process and transition, President Buhari assures the new Congolese leader of Nigeria’s readiness to work with his government to consolidate peace, stability, reconciliation and development in the Central African country,” Femi Adesina’s statement partly reads.