DRC Ebola response effort suspended in Beni after clashes

Efforts to fight an Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo's restive eastern Beni region were suspended on Saturday after clashes just a "few metres" from a local emergency centre and the hotels of several response teams, the health ministry said.

UN peacekeepers from the MONUSCO mission repelled an offensive by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia in Beni city's northern Boikene neighbourhood late on Friday, a ministry statement said.

The ADF, a shadowy armed group that has killed hundreds of people since 2014 and at least seven peacekeepers in clashes just this week, wanted to "attack one of MONUSCO's bases", the statement added.

"We escaped death thanks to MONUSCO, which is very close to us in Boikene," a resident told the UN's Okapi radio.

The health ministry said that "all field activities were suspended and the emergency operations centre remains closed" on Saturday, adding that Ebola health worker response teams had stayed in their hotels.

Also on Saturday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said 16 of its staff members in Beni had been temporarily evacuated after a shell hit the building they were staying in.

Michel Yao, WHO's coordinator for Ebola response operations in Beni, told AFP that no one was injured, adding that it was not known whether the shell came from the ADF or MONUSCO forces.

Health Minister Dr Oly Ilunga Kalenga said he deplored these acts of violence and the outbreak "remains dangerous, particularly in Beni".

Since August 1, the Ebola outbreak in Beni, home to up to 300 000 people, has killed 213 people.

The UN has said unrest is hampering efforts to contain the disease in a region that has been troubled for decades by inter-ethnic bloodshed and militia violence.

The ADF is an Islamist-rooted group that rose in western Uganda in 1995, led by Jamil Mukulu, a converted Muslim.

Forced out of Uganda, it operates in the border area in the DRC's North Kivu province.

A ceremony was held on Saturday in Beni for six peacekeepers from Malawi and one from Tanzania who were killed in an operation against the ADF this week.

Fifteen other peacekeepers were killed in an ADF attack on a MONUSCO base in Beni in December last year.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Authorities should bring in the army already
11% - 1899 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
49% - 8728 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
37% - 6473 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
4% - 633 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
16.45
-1.6%
Rand - Pound
19.83
-1.0%
Rand - Euro
16.72
-0.6%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.56
-0.3%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-1.7%
Gold
1,778.99
-1.3%
Silver
20.26
-2.7%
Palladium
2,159.00
-3.1%
Platinum
937.50
-3.0%
Brent Crude
98.15
-1.5%
Top 40
64,022
+0.0%
All Share
70,741
+0.0%
Resource 10
63,315
-1.2%
Industrial 25
86,967
+0.5%
Financial 15
16,154
+0.6%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE