The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday that the two attacks in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) had killed four workers responding to the Ebola outbreak and injured five others, Trend reports citing Xinhua.
The attacks occurred overnight on a shared living camp in Biakato Mines and an Ebola response coordination office in Mangina, a small town in North Kivu province, the WHO said. The dead include a member of a vaccination team, two drivers and a police officer. Although no WHO staff were among those killed, one staff member was injured. Most of the other injured people are from the DRC Ministry of Health.
"We are heartbroken that people have died in the line of duty as they worked to save others," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "The world has lost brave professionals."
"Ebola was retreating. These attacks will give it force again, and more people will die as a consequence," said Tedros. "It will be tragic to see more unnecessary suffering in communities that have already suffered so much. We call on everyone who has a role to play to end this cycle of violence."
According to WHO statistics, as of Nov. 19, a total of 3,298 Ebola cases had been reported in the DRC, including 3,180 confirmed and 118 probable cases, of which 2,197 had died.
Though relatively lower case incidence has been observed recently, the WHO cautioned that the situation remains highly contingent upon the level of access to the remote areas of infection and security within affected communities.
At a press conference on Thursday, Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO Health Emergencies, said that after the attack all WHO staff have been moved out of Biakato Mines, the injured evacuated to Goma, capital of North Kivu province. Staff of other UN agencies have also been relocated, he added.
There have been 386 attacks, seven deaths, 77 injuries in 2019 against Ebola healthcare workers and infrastructure in the DRC, but the attack on Thursday morning was by far the deadliest one, said Ryan.
Despite all this, the WHO has vowed to continue to work with the DRC government and partners to ensure the security for the staff and all health workers, and to find solutions to continue to respond and to end the outbreak.