Congo Ebola response must be elevated to maximum level, UN told

Thursday, May 30, 2019
By Paul Martin

Charities call for outbreak to be put on a par with crises in Yemen, Syria and Mozambique as death toll reaches 1,287

Rebecca Ratcliffe
Wed 29 May 2019

The UN has been urged by charities to ramp up Ebola prevention work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the highest level of emergency response.

Only three crises – Yemen, Syria and Mozambique – are treated as the equivalent of a level-three response, activated when agencies are unable to meet needs on the ground.

Charities including Mercy Corps and Oxfam said the same declaration should also be made in DRC, following a recent acceleration in the spread of Ebola.

Almost 2,000 cases of Ebola have been recorded since the outbreak began in August. As of Monday, 1,287 people have died from the disease.

Violence by armed groups and community mistrust have severely undermined attempts to halt the epidemic, forcing health workers to suspend vaccination and treatment work.

Whitney Elmer, country director of DRC for Mercy Corps, said that declaring the equivalent of a level-three emergency would bring “manifold benefits” by clarifying the roles of agencies, allowing greater access to resources and attracting greater global attention.

“There has never been an epidemic of this complexity or size in the DRC,” said Elmer, adding that the crisis requires a new structure in line with its scale.

The global humanitarian coordination body, Inter-Agency Standing Committee, will consider the call when it meets on Wednesday. Among the factors to be considered are the scale and complexity of an epidemic, and the risk of a failure to respond effectively.

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