Security challenge: Community distrust and resistance - Recommendations for work in the DRC in the context of the Ebola emergency response 2019-20
In February, an Ebola response team member was assaulted and injured when local residents clashed with healthcare workers after the transfer of an Ebola case to Tako village in Beni territory, North Kivu.
Context and key challenges
Using open sources, key informant interviews and data shared by response actors, Insecurity Insight has identified the following contextual challenges relating to community distrust and resistance to the response, which have in turn impacted response actors’ security and access to affected communities:
• Reports of community members threatening staff members during programme activities are frequent, and often lead to assaults and injuries. In many of these incidents staff members are targeted directly.
• Intimidation, threats and violence were frequently reported between February and May and in October 2019 and coincided with intensified intervention efforts due to the increase in reported Ebola cases in Katwa and Butemo, North Kivu.
• In communities in eastern DRC there are widely held local views that the Ebola outbreak was fabricated to benefit business-owning local elites or to further destabilise the region.
• Distrust in vaccinations and treatments affects the willingness of some communities to seek help from healthcare centres.
• Violence and threats affect staff well-being and their ability to provide care. This has also resulted in staff shortages.
• The use of local healthcare staff in the Ebola response can reduce the availability of healthcare staff for other interventions that communities consider to be important.
• Efforts to contain the spread of Ebola are being hampered by widespread community mistrust and resistance to outside help.