WHO evacuates Ebola staff as violence intensifies in Beni

2 days ago

Sixteen World Health Organization (WHO) staff members mobilized against the Ebola epidemic in eastern DRC had to leave Beni where a shell hit the building they were occupying on Friday evening, during clashes between peacekeepers and rebels, WHO told AFP.

“It was in the exchanges of fire that the house received a shell. It was not a deliberate attack on the villa,” Dr. Michel Yao, Ebola coordinator in Beni, told AFP.

No one was injured, he said, without indicating who fired the shell. Last week, the Congolese military backed by the UN peacekeeping force launched an offensive against rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) around Beni, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

This is the first time that WHO has had to evacuate personnel, even temporarily, since the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic was declared on 1 August in the highly dangerous Beni region.

The 16 members (out of a total of 191 WHO members in Beni) left on Saturday for Goma “to relieve stress” and awaiting a solution for their housing, according to Mr Yao.

“It’s a two-storey villa and the staff had taken refuge downstairs. The shell landed on the roof in one of the toilets,” he said, adding that some people are “traumatized.

Earlier Saturday, the Congolese Ministry of Health reported that the fight against the Ebola outbreak in Beni had been suspended after armed clashes the day before, “a few metres from the Emergency Operations Centre and hotels in which several teams are housed”.

On Friday evening, UN Mission in Congo (Monusco) peacekeepers repelled a new offensive attributed to the armed group ADF “after several hours of clashes” in the Boikene district, at the northern entrance of Beni, according to the Ministry of Health’s daily bulletin.

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which has massacred hundreds of civilians since 2014 and killed at least seven peacekeepers this week in clashes, wanted to “attack one of the Monusco bases”, according to this official Congolese document.

Friday night’s clashes resulted in two houses and a car being burned about 100 metres from one of the hotels occupied by Ebola teams, according to an AFP correspondent.

“The Minister of Health, Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, deplores these acts of violence (...). The epidemic remains dangerous, especially in Beni,” adds the Ministry of Health.

?#Ebola – Situation au samedi 17 novembre 2018
- Au total, 358 cas (311 confirmés et 47 probables) et 213 décès
- 6 nouveaux cas confirmés
- 3 nouveaux décès
- 57 cas suspects

! Nettoyage de la base de données en cours jusqu'à la fin de la semainehttps://t.co/0VqvUEIWWw pic.twitter.com/tYjQz1fU7f— Ministère de la Santé RDC (@MinSanteRDC) November 17, 2018

Historically Ugandan Muslim rebels who withdrew to eastern Congo in the 1990s, the ADF have been attacking the city of Beni since September, following massacres targeting mainly Oïcha in the north or roads and fields in the bush.

A tribute was paid Saturday in Beni to the six peacekeepers from Malawi and the Tanzanian peacekeeper killed this week in the offensive against the ADF conducted jointly with the Congolese army.

Fifteen Tanzanian peacekeepers were killed on 8 December last year in an attack on a UN base in the Beni region attributed to the ADF.

Elections are scheduled in the DRC on 23 December. Earlier this week, the UN representative in Congo, Leïla Zerrougui, said she was “increasingly alarmed” by the situation in Beni, worrying about the security situation that threatens the holding of elections in many parts of the eastern part of the country.

AFP

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Subscriber Podcast #25 – A New Direction

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In this month's susbcriber-only podcast I talk about my new screenplay project - a political satire of Hollywood. I talk about my history with acting and writing, and discuss some of my creative process, how I developed two simple ideas and combined them to form the basis for my screenplay. I also quickly review some of my film and TV inspirations including The Big Picture, Get Shorty and Episodes.

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Uganda sealed its place in the prestigious Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals due in Cameroon next year with a 1-0 win over Cape Verde in Kampala on Saturday.

This will be Uganda’s seventh appearance in Africa’s biggest footballing tournament since 1962.

Congratulations to Uganda Cranes for not only defeating Cape Verde this evening at Mandela National Stadium, Namboole but also qualifying for the Africa Nations Cup 2019 in Cameroon. Thanks to the coach, football management and the fans for rallying behind the team. #UGACPV— Yoweri K Museveni (@KagutaMuseveni) November 17, 2018

Congratulations UgandaCranes! Pump all the way; we're solidly behind you!PGovUg https://t.co/8ryOqX1Uge— Kifefe Kizza-Besigye (@kizzabesigye1) November 17, 2018

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.UgandaCranes 1-0 Cape Verde | 2019 AFCON Qualifiers Highlights. The game that saw Uganda advance to the AFCON 2019 finals in Cameroon. Goal by Patrick Kaddu. Congratulations #KawowoUpdates pic.twitter.com/5BTZTz3nTv— Kawowo Sports (kawowosports) November 17, 2018

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Uganda has not conceded a goal in the campaign.

.UgandaCranes skipper & custodian masindeonyango hasn’t conceded any goal during the #AFCON2019Q.
Mr Safe Hands ?? pic.twitter.com/1n61UuaWpc— FUFA (@OfficialFUFA) November 18, 2018

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