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WHO warns Ebola 'perfect storm' is brewing in DR Congo

Democratic Republic Of Congo

The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that the Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo could deteriorate rapidly because of attacks by armed groups, community resistance and the geographic spread of the disease.

At least 100 people have died in the outbreak, out of 150 cases in North Kivu and Ituri provinces.

“We are now extremely concerned that several factors may be coming together over the next weeks to months to create a potential perfect storm. A perfect storm of active conflict limiting our ability to access civilians, distrust by segments of the community, already traumatized by decades of conflict and of murder, driven by a fear of a terrifying disease, but also exploited and manipulated by local politicians prior to an election,” WHO’s head of emergency response Peter Salama told a news conference in Geneva on Tuesday.

Eastern DR Congo, the epicentre of the outbreak, is home to several rebel groups. Over the weekend, 21 people were killed in an attack in Beni, a flashpoint city in the North Kivu region. The Congolese army has blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a notorious rebel militia.

The city has declared a “ville morte”, a period of mourning until at least Friday (September 28), obliging WHO to suspend its operations.

On Monday, 80 percent of Ebola contacts and three suspected cases in and around Beni could not be reached for disease monitoring.

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