Ebola fight hindered by “deadly environment” and “political and social” obstacles, UN Security Council hears

Ebola fight hindered by “deadly environment” and “political and social” obstacles, UN Security Council hears

Eradicating Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is being hampered by “a variety of political and social factors”, the head of the United Nations mission to the country told the UN Security Council on Wednesday (local time).

Leila Zerrougui, the UN Special Representative and head of the UN’s Stabilisation Mission (MONUSCO), said that militants have created a “deadly environment” for aid workers who are “being specifically threatened and killed by armed groups” such as the rebel Allied Democratic Forces and community-based militias.

High-levels of community distrust surrounding aid efforts also make it difficult to contain the epidemic, which has claimed more than 1,700 lives and may be spreading beyond the country.

Ebola is not the only major health problem in the DRC.

Ms Zerrougui told the Security Council that an outbreak of measles “has already claimed the lives of more than 2,000 people since the beginning of this year”, making it a potentially larger problem than Ebola.

MONUSCO has been able to close several field offices in areas where armed conflict has ceased, allowing it to concentrate resources on “strengthening of State institutions” and protecting civilians in areas where conflict is ongoing.

Of particular concern is the exploitation of ethnic tensions in the country’s eastern Ituri province and conflict-related sexual violence in the town of Masisi.

“As a result [of conflict] the country is currently facing simultaneous emergency situations, including mass displacement and protection threats,” Ms Zerrougui said.

MONUSCO will continue to provide support to the Congolese security forces and justice system, as well as assisting the newly-appointed UN Ebola Emergency Response Coordinator.

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