Ebola confirmation in DRC city ‘concerning’: UN health chief
The World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners are scaling up Ebola surveillance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) following the confirmation of a case of the viral disease in an urban area.
The UN agency has deployed around 30 experts to the north-western city of Mbandaka, located in Equateur Province, which has a population of more than 1 million.
Until now, all confirmed Ebola cases had been reported in an area in the same province, though roughly 150 kilometres away from Mbandaka.
WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has described the development as “concerning”, but added that the world now has “better tools than ever before” to combat the disease.
The health experts will work with communities on prevention, treatment and reporting of new cases, in addition to conducting surveillance.
More than 40 Ebola cases have been reported so far in the DRC: three confirmed; 20 probable; and 21 suspected.
UN mission deploys more blue helmets to troubled South Sudan state
Up to 150 peacekeepers from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) are being deployed to Unity State as part of the Mission’s efforts to protect civilians being deliberately targeted by warring parties.
Thousands of people have fled intense fighting as armed forces advance towards the town of Leer.
At least 30 villages or settlements have been attacked, with bodies left unburied, dozens of huts burned to the ground, and critical services such as medical clinics and food stores destroyed.
UNMISS chief David Shearer said the fresh deployment will enable peacekeeping troops to patrol deeper to reach remote villages where the worst atrocities are taking place, and to provide protection, to deter further fighting.
The UN Mission reports that the surge in violence has forced more people to flee their homes.
A site next to the UN base in Leer that previously held 500 displaced people is now housing around 2,000 civilians, mostly children.
Aid official calls for urgent support for Gaza violence victims
A top UN aid official in the Middle East is appealing for urgent support to address the needs of Palestinians affected by recent violence in Gaza, where 58 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured in protests on Monday.
Jamie McGoldrick, Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, described the situation there as “devastating”, adding that “the crisis is far from over”.
In response to the “massive rise” in fatalities and injuries, humanitarians have been focusing on providing immediate life-saving health care, as well as mental health and psychosocial support.
But as Mr. McGoldrick pointed out, these “new needs” come against the backdrop of a decade-long Israeli blockade on Gaza, as well as an internal Palestinian political divide and a chronic energy crisis that has disrupted basic services.
The UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, said one welcome development has been the partial reopening of the main entry point for goods between Israel and Gaza.
This has allowed 15 truckloads of medical supplies to enter the territory, two of which — donated by Israel — were reportedly returned.
But with stocks of medicine and supplies dwindling, OCHA said health partners will require more than $24 million to address both immediate and long-term needs.