Four killed in attacks against Ebola response centers in Congo


Deadly night-time attacks by armed groups have once again claimed the lives of frontline healthworkers helping to confront the deadly Ebola virus in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

"Ebola was retreating. These attacks will give it force again, and more people will die as a outcome", said Tedros.

"The world has lost fearless professionals", he said, quoted in a WHO statement issued in Geneva.

"We are heartbroken that people have died in the line of duty as they worked to save others", said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The WHO said 49 of its nonessential staff were flown to the eastern city of Goma, leaving 71, while UNICEF temporarily relocated 27 staff, leaving 12 in Beni.

More than 255,000 people in Congo have received Ebola vaccines as part of the efforts to contain the virus.

"While the Ebola outbreak, which has claimed more than 2,000 lives in the eastern DRC, has commanded sustained global attention, measles, which has claimed more than twice as many lives, continues to be underreported", said Unicef's Edouard Beigbeder. Most of the other injured people are from the Ministry of Health.

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Attacks on healthcare workers, treatment centres and communities have been a frequent feature of this latest Ebola outbreak in Ituri and North Kivu provinces that began in August 2018 and which is the second largest on record.

WHO's emergencies director Dr. Mike Ryan, however, said neither the attackers' identities nor their motivation had been confirmed but it was "unmistakably a directed attack at the response".

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres visited the town on Sept 1.

"Ebola was retreating", said Tedros.

This week at least four people were also killed during protests fuelled by anger at the perceived failure of the army and United Nations peacekeepers to protect civilians from the Islamist Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

More than 2000 people were dead by the Ebola virus since the start of this year. Most of the recent new cases have been reported in the newly targeted communities of Biakato, Mangina and Beni.

"The elements that we have indicate that it was Blue Helmets who were responsible for the death of this young man", said a spokesman for the mission, MONUSCO.