UN shifts response as Ebola outbreak in DR Congo drags on

The United Nations is stepping up its response to the deadly Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, now in its 10th month, and needs additional resources, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday.

More than 1,000 people have died from the virus—the second deadliest outbreak on record after the epidemic that killed 11,300 people in West Africa in 2014-2016.

Guterres said he was "concerned by the number of new Ebola cases" and praised who have vaccinated over 100,000 people and saved hundreds of lives.

"Despite these efforts, the outbreak is now in its 10th month and has claimed more than 1,000 lives," he said in a statement.

The United Nations is carrying out "important shifts in its response", he said, adding that "at this critical juncture, additional resources are needed."

Guterres did not provide details, but called on countries and partner organizations to help UN agencies secure the needed resources.

The United Nations—and in particular its health agency, the World Health Organization—came under fire for its slow response to the outbreak in West Africa and it has vowed to learn lessons from those past mistakes.

This is the 10th outbreak of Ebola in 40 years in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It began last August in the city of Beni in North Kivu province before spreading to the neighboring Ituri region.

Guterres said this outbreak was contained to parts of the two provinces.

Efforts to roll back the contagious hemorrhagic fever have been hampered by rebel attacks on and clinics.

There has also been resistance within communities to preventative measures, care facilities and safe burials.

Guterres said "the full involvement and engagement of local people remains the key to successfully controlling the outbreak."

© 2019 AFP

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