DRC: Armed militiamen attack Ebola treatment centre days after being rebuilt

Henrietta Strickland
March 11, 2019

Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today visited an Ebola treatment centre in Butembo, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, that was attacked by armed groups last week and again earlier today.

One of the militiamen was wounded in Saturday's attack and is in custody, Kanyamanda Mbusa said.

"These are not attacks BY the community, they are attacks ON the community".

"While it broke his heart to hear of the latest casualties, ".we have no choice except to continue serving the people here, who are among the most vulnerable in the world", he added.

Dozens of armed groups are active in eastern Congo, though some have allowed health workers access to administer Ebola vaccines and track contacts of infected people after delicate negotiations.

The early-morning attack in Butembo came less than a week after the treatment centre reopened following an attack last month that forced aid group Doctors Without Borders to suspend its operations in the city.

Authorities suspect the Mai-Mai movement to be behind the attack.

Butembo Mayor Sylvain Kanyamanda says security forces repelled the attackers. But this attack happens to be the third among the series of attacks the centre has faced.

Efforts to curb the DR Congo's worst Ebola outbreak are stumbling, medical charity MSF warned Thursday, blaming the role of the security forces in the response and their "toxic" relations with local communities.

Burned structures are seen after attackers set fire to an Ebola treatment centre run by Doctors Without Borders in the east Congolese town of Katwa, Democratic Republic of Congo, February 25, 2019.

The ministry, which on Sunday tweeted a photo of smiling workers reopening the Butembo treatment center, says 853 Ebola cases have been confirmed since this outbreak was declared on August 1, including 578 deaths. He spoke with personnel in the centre and thanked them for their dedication. A World Health Organization spokesman said it was unclear if the visit would still happen. The people of Katwa and Butembo, as in the other communities affected by Ebola, want and deserve a place to receive care and a chance of survival.

During his visit he met President Felix Tshisekedi, other agencies working in the field and local organisations tackling the outbreak.

The facility had resumed operations only a week ago and had been managed by the ministry of health in collaboration with the WHO and United Nations Children's Fund. A total of 561 lives have been claimed out of the 894 reported ones.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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