– 20 November 2018
Latest Ebola outbreak is worst in DRC’s history
The Democratic Republic of Congo is facing the worst Ebola outbreak in the country's history with more than 200 confirmed deaths from the virus since August. It is the country’s second outbreak in less than a year.
SOS Children’s Villages operates several long-term projects in the region. Their child-welfare experts are working to raise awareness of the importance of good hygiene in preventing the spread of the disease and taking measures to ensure the safety of children under their care.
The DRC has been beset by conflict and political instability for decades and the ongoing violence and mass displacement are hindering attempts to contain the outbreak. A wave of attacks against health officials in recent weeks has led to a surge in reported cases of the infection.
The charity has also expressed concern about the economic impact the crisis may have on families in the region, many of whom have already seen their incomes deteriorate sharply in recent years. The countries’ Gross National Income (GNI) has dropped by more than a third since civil war erupted in the 1990s.
The charity's family strengthening programmes are providing struggling families in the DRC with practical and emotional support, including income generation and family counselling. The programmes aim to reduce the incidence of family breakdown and enable families to better provide for their children.
Tom-Nayal Djideti, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages DRC said: “All these events have had a significant impact on people’s socio-economic livelihood, with skyrocketing inflation and a reduction of the purchasing power of the Congolese population.
“North Kivu, where the outbreak is centred, is considered the granary of the DRC and the unrest has affected production. This has had a significant impact on food prices in Bukavu, where we have been working for nearly 30 years.
“The political situation remains unstable and evolves very rapidly in some regions and there are reports that armed groups are limiting the access of Ebola response teams to patients, making it even more difficult to tackle the ongoing epidemic.”
Concerns remain high that the Ebola virus may spread to neighbouring Uganda, which is the largest host country for refugees fleeing conflict in the DRC. There are currently more than 1 million internally displaced people residing in the Ebola-affected provinces of North Kivu and Ituri. Uganda has begun distributing an experimental vaccine to protect health workers along the DRC border.
SOS Children’s Villages runs several projects in Uganda which may come under threat if the virus spreads. Their village community in Fort Portal is caring for more than 100 unsupported children in a family-like environment. They are also supporting families at the Rwamwanja refugee settlement, helping to boost the local economy, support women-only households and improve relations between refugee and host communities.
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Notes to editors:
For media enquiries please contact Lucy Prioli at Lucy.Prioli@sosuk.org or on 01223 222 974.