UNHCR has expressed concerns as Ebola has spread to the conflict effected area of Oicha in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There has been one confirmed case and one suspected case in the area surrounded by armed groups.
Over the last few weeks Ebola has killed over 60 people in DRC and infected many more.
Oicha is located in the North Kivu region of DRC where over one million people are thought to have been displaced; the highest concentration of internally displaced people in DRC. Estimates suggest that 500,000 have been forced from their homes this year alone.
Dr. Peter Salama, WHO Deputy Director-General of Emergency Preparedness and Response commented on the situation at a recent press briefing:
“It really was the problem we were anticipating and the problem … we were dreading. Our teams have responded this week. They’ve had to reach Oicha with armed escorts… Once they reach Oicha, they are able to move within Oicha town more freely, because the town itself is a yellow zone from a security perspective”
The UNHCR has expressed particular concerns over the deteriorating situation in the Ebola hit northern territory, where Oicha is located. In total, 1.3 million people live in the area which has been labelled as a state of siege since conflict spiralled in 2017. Estimates suggest that over 100 armed groups are active in the area.
Dr. Peter Salama added:
“Despite security challenges, a UNHCR team accessed the area north of Beni earlier this month and conducted humanitarian assessments in Oicha and Eringeti districts”
“We are arranging additional emergency shelters and other humanitarian assistance to meet the needs of the displaced in Beni. While UNHCR’s humanitarian response is continuing despite the outbreak of Ebola, the prevailing security situation and drastic funding shortfall severely hamper our efforts. UNHCR’s DRC 2018 appeal totalling $201 million is only 17 per cent funded”
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Image credit: UNHCR