DR Congo: Ebola responders killed in armed attacks | News | DW | 28.11.2019
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DR Congo: Ebola responders killed in armed attacks

The attacks killed an unknown number of health workers working to combat an Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Dozens of workers have been evacuated due to deadly unrest near a UN peacekeeping base.

Ebola response workers were killed in attacks carried out by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed on Thursday.

"We are heartbroken that our worst fears have been realized," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the UN health agency, wrote on Twitter.

"Our focus is caring for the wounded and ensuring staff at other locations are safe," he added.

Two members of the vaccination team were killed in Mangina while a third Ebola response worker was killed in Biakato Mines Health Area, reported news agency DPA, citing a spokeswoman for the Congolese Health Ministry.

The attack came just hours after a separate attack by a suspected rebel group killed 19 people in village in east Congo — with anger mounting against the perceived inaction of the army and United Nations peacekeeping troops.

Anger over rebel attacks

WHO had already evacuated 49 of its staff from a UN peacekeeping base in the city of Beni after locals stormed the base this week, demanding more protection from rebel groups.

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The protests also prompted WHO to put a hold on Ebola response work in the city, sparking concern from health experts.

Local residents accuse UN peacekeepers and the army of not doing enough to protect civilians from rebels, who are fighting for control over the area's

Hindering the fight against Ebola

Repeated attacks from rebel groups have made it even more difficult for health workers to contain the Ebola virus.

Over 3,300 people have been infected with the virus since the outbreak began a year ago, while over 2,100 people have died.

Although case numbers are dropping, the UN's efforts to trace the contacts of those who were infected as well as vaccinate people have slowed due to the violence.

The highly contagious and deadly virus is largely spread through close contact with the bodily fluids of infected people.

rs/stb  (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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