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DRC: Urgent response needed to unprecedented multiple crises
Violence, measles and an Ebola outbreak hit Ituri province "all at the same time"
Multiple humanitarian crises are unfolding in Ituri province in northeast Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – including violence, a measles outbreak and Ebola – as hundreds of thousands of people are in urgent need of assistance.
The fight for control over mineral wealth in the east of DRC is fuelling the instability, as well as long standing disputes over land ownership. The recent upsurge in violence across the region has forced thousands to flee their homes.
"We are seeing not only mass displacement due to violence but also a rapidly spreading measles outbreak and an Ebola epidemic that shows no signs of slowing down, all at the same time”
Despite MSF’s repeated calls on international aid organisations to scale up humanitarian aid, the majority of the displaced still haven’t received even the most basic assistance.
The measles epidemic is likely to be the deadliest since the disease made a strong resurgence in the country in 2011-2012.
In the first six months of 2019, more than 118,000 cases have been identified. Sadly, more than 2,061 people have died.
In July 2019, we vaccinated more than 4,300 children against measles in two camps in Bunia for people displaced by the violence, where an Ebola epidemic is also underway.
At the vaccination sites, infection prevention and control measures against Ebola were put in place to protect the vaccination team and the people coming for vaccination.
“Unfortunately, this is not the first time there are important humanitarian needs in the country,” says Moussa Ousman, an MSF doctor and country representative in DRC.
“This time we are seeing not only mass displacement due to violence but also a rapidly spreading measles outbreak and an Ebola epidemic that shows no signs of slowing down, all at the same time. This is unprecedented.”
Intercommunal violence has been increasing in Ituri since December 2017, and the large majority of people displaced as a result have been in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, some for more than a year.
Since October 2018, MSF has conducted three mortality surveys in Drodro, Nizi and Angumu in Ituri. All showed that the mortality rates in these communities were far above emergency levels.
“Our surveys show that people are mainly dying from preventable diseases such as malaria, measles and diarrhoea. That is very worrying,” says Moussa.
"Together with the ministry of health, we are looking at what innovative strategies we can implement given the circumstances, but more help is urgently needed here to prevent more deaths.”
Urgent needs are not being met
MSF is supporting the local ministry of health to provide medical care and respond to the most acute needs of displaced people in Drodro, Nizi and Bunia. Our teams are also providing clean water, distributing relief items and constructing showers and latrines.
Nevertheless, the most urgent needs of thousands of families remain unmet.
MSF urges for an immediate scale-up of long-term humanitarian assistance, to prevent the loss of more lives and to ensure decent living conditions for all those who have been forced to flee.