DR Congo: “Triple threat” of conflict, community resistance and increasing Ebola cases complicates response to outbreak

Kinshasa/Nairobi/Geneva, 29 August 2018: The response to the current Ebola outbreak is being further complicated by the triple threat of conflict, community resistance and a rising number of infections and deaths, says the Red Cross.

According to the latest report of the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 75 people have died and there are now 112 suspected Ebola cases. Last week, an Ebola case was confirmed in Oicha health zone which is difficult to access due to conflict.

Dr Balla Condé, Head of Emergency Operations with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said: “In addition to the increased death toll and the spread of disease to inaccessible areas, we are experiencing fear and anger in some communities against Red Cross teams who come to bury the deceased in accordance with safe and dignified burial protocols.”

These safe burials are critical to controlling and containing the outbreak. The body of a person who died of Ebola is highly infectious and, if not properly handled during burial, can put entire families and communities at greater risk of infection.

The response to the current outbreak is further complicated by major security concerns across North Kivu that are limiting access to people in need of assistance, treatment and care and making contact tracing more difficult.

Dr Jacques Katshishi, Ebola Operation Coordinator for DRC Red Cross said: “Local Red Cross volunteers are taking enormous risks to provide assistance and safe burials in the affected areas. Safe access to these communities is crucial to stopping the spread of Ebola.”

Ten Red Cross teams have been trained and are conducting safe burials and community outreach in Beni and Mangina health zones in North Kivu. The teams are focusing on building trust within communities and working with families to ensure safe burial practices are in place, while still respecting local traditions and beliefs. In addition, 100 Red Cross volunteers are providing door-to-door Ebola prevention information in affected communities.

The IFRC and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have appealed for 9.1 million Swiss francs to support the Red Cross and Red Crescent response to the current 10th Ebola outbreak in Kivu and provide continued support for the communities recovering from the 9th outbreak in Equateur.

About the Red Cross response:

The Red Cross of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the ICRC and IFRC are working together to respond to this outbreak. The Red Cross response draws on the specific and complementary capacities of the different organizations. The Red Cross of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has vast community networks. The ICRC has a deep understanding of the affected area, and has had an office in Beni since 2008, allowing it to help communities affected by armed conflict and violence. IFRC has extensive experience supporting Ebola operations in DRC and elsewhere.

Media contacts

DRC Red Cross

Dr Jacques Katshitshi: +243 816 513 688, jacques.nsal@gmail.com

IFRC

In North Kivu: Dr Balla Conde, +243 896 721 969, balla.conde@ifrc.org

In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe, +254 731 688 613, euloge.ishimwe@ifrc.org

In Geneva: Laura Ngô-Fontaine, +41 79 570 4418, laura.ngofontaine@ifrc.org