Congo

ROC: EC grants €2 million in humanitarian aid

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NAIROBI, 14 March (IRIN) - The EC has approved €2 million (US $2.16 million) to help the Republic of Congo (ROC) meet humanitarian needs arising from the spread of the Ebola haemorrhagic virus and war.
Of this sum, the EC said from Brussels, €500,000 would be targeted at controlling the current Ebola epidemic, and €1.4 million spent on improving the conditions of people affected by conflict in Pool Region (with €100,000 held in reserve). It said the aid would be channelled over the next six months through the EC's Humanitarian Aid Office, ECHO, which is directed by Commissioner Poul Nielson.

The EC said the aid would help implement a strategy designed to prevent the further spread of the virus, which, according to the World Health Organisation, has so far killed 109 of the 119 registered cases. The disease had been most severe in the districts of Mbombo and Kelle, home to some 10,000 people, in Cuvette-Ouest Region, the EC said.

"Diagnosis will be improved by boosting the health service, and by actively searching for new isolated cases," it said. "Isolation units for sufferers will be created where needs arise. An awareness raising campaign will inform the local population how to diagnose, treat and prevent the spread of the disease. Health workers will be trained to protect themselves and provided with the necessary equipment. The overall coordination of health interventions will be ensured through an epidemic management committee."

The ROC people are also suffering from the conflict between the army of President Denis Sassou-Nguesso and the Ninja militia led by Frédérique Bitsanou aka Pasteur Ntoumi. Ongoing hostilities in Pool Region have affected almost 200,000 vulnerable and displaced people. About 100,000 people living in the conflict zone are currently inaccessible to aid workers.

ECHO funds will provide displaced people with clean water, hygiene facilities, health services and nutritional support. The funds will also enable aid workers to actively seek out vulnerable people affected by the conflict and living in rural areas. About 5,000 families will be provided with essential items such as soap, blankets, jerry cans and plastic sheets. Vulnerable families affected by the conflict will be provided with the seeds and tools necessary for agricultural production.

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