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UN Warns: Ebola Humanitarian Response at Risk with DRC Violence

The ongoing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been terrorizing the country at various levels — widespread rape and sexual violence, massive human rights violations, exploitation of resources and extreme poverty. While the armed groups are perpetrating violence against civilians, United Nations, African Union, and neighboring countries have been struggling to aid the country. Around nineteen thousand UN peacekeepers are working under the stabilization mission. Following the Friday attack on a UN base and nearby hotels housing UN staff in Beni, a spokesperson of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) condemned any violence in the DRC that could curb the humanitarian response to the Ebola outbreak in the north-east of the country.

Speaking at the press briefing in Geneva, Herve Verhoosel pushed all parties in DRC to respect the international humanitarian law. He added that WFP cannot endure any disruption to its life-saving operations.

Herve Verhoosel said, “Any setbacks due to insecurity threaten to slow down efforts to limit the spread of the virus. Therefore, we urge all parties to facilitate the life-saving work of our teams and aid workers.”

However, no UN employees were injured in the attack. Besides, the majority remained in Beni, despite the temporary relocation of WFP to the city of Goma. Moreover, the agency was able to continue the food assistance and logistical support, which it offers as part of the broader humanitarian response to the Ebola outbreak in eastern DRC.

The attack in Beni came two days after seven UN peacekeepers were executed and 10 were wounded during a joint operation with Government forces in Beni territory. The operation was carried out against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) armed group in the territory, as a part of the UN mandate to protect the local population.

The WFP have been supporting the medical response to Ebola by several means— constructing safe rooms for response teams, getting food to those receiving medical care for Ebola in health facilities, as well as transporting, delivering and storing medical supplies.

Population movements are considered as one of the major factors in the spread of disease. Therefore, WFP is also providing food in the affected region to limit the movements. Moreover, rations are also being provided to health workers and other front-line personnel.

The conditions in DRC are pushing the United Nations from both sides. While the organization is ensuring to improve the conflict situation in the country, it also has to ensure to humanitarian response to the Ebola outbreak.

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