Violence and political unrest
The epicenter of the Ebola outbreak is in North Kivu, a densely populated area in the country’s northeast. North Kivu shares a border with Uganda and is a hub for travel and trade, as well as human trafficking. North Kivu has also been an area of conflict for over 25 years, with more than 100 armed groups active in the region.
As the number of new confirmed Ebola cases continues to grow, violence and political unrest in the affected areas have further restricted the community’s access to health care. Security constraints are hindering the Ebola response, making it difficult to identify new cases, trace contacts, and conduct vital community outreach activities. Some health centers have been damaged or temporarily closed.
“In this situation people might have no other choice than to seek medical help in health facilities that do not have adequate triage or infection prevention and control measures in place, which makes the risk of contamination higher,” said Laurence Sailly, MSF emergency coordinator in Beni. “We are talking about a population that has endured many years of conflict. On top of that, they are now faced with the deadliest Ebola outbreak the country has ever seen. The unrest … adds even more to their plight by limiting their chances of finding adequate medical care.”
On February 24, 2019, unidentified assailants attacked the MSF-managed Ebola treatment center in Katwa, setting the structure on fire and destroying medical wards and equipment. Three days later MSF’s Butembo treatment center was also attacked and burned. All medical activities at the two sites have been suspended.