A new Ebola outbreak in the conflict zone North Kivu could not have hit at a worse time or place, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Congo has said.
The council through the Country Director, Dr Ulrika Blom noted that the deadly outbreak is a lamentable setback in the overall humanitarian response, and will compound the massive challenges already being faced in helping the millions of people in crisis across the country.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Health confirmed four cases of Ebola near North Kivu’s third largest city, Beni making it the tenth outbreak that has faced the country in 42 years.
According to the commission, North Kivu has long been the epicentre of violent armed clashes and intercommunal conflict and has consistently had the highest levels of internal displacement in the country.
It was also noted that the most vulnerable families forced to flee because of violence do not feel safe with at least 1,000 protection incidents have been reported in North Kivu since January.
These incidents range from looting, extortion, maiming and burning of homes.
“Many people who fled to Beni for safety are struggling to find food,” said Blom. “Many are farmers who cannot access their fields, for fear they will be attacked by armed groups lurking outside the city limits. This is the reality people are faced with before the Ebola outbreak.”
Ms Blom maintains that only 21 per cent of the $1.7 billion required to help some 13 million people in need has been received so far.
The lack of funding has, she said caused several aid agencies to close their operations in North Kivu. The result has been serious gaps in crucial sectors such as protection, shelter, water, sanitation, nutrition and education.
“Congo is the most neglected displacement crisis on the planet. Without adequate funding within the overall humanitarian response in North Kivu and the rest of the country, a multiplying of emergencies and fatalities is just around the corner,” warned Blom.
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