The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) evacuated staff working on the Ebola epidemic from Beni in Democratic Republic of Congo due to a worsening security situation.
Rebels believed to be the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) killed eight people in an overnight raid on Sunday.
Residents angry at perceived inaction of both government and a UN peacekeeping mission set fire to the mayor’s office and several UN buildings on Monday. At least two people were killed in clashes with police.
WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a news briefing in Geneva 49 non-essential staff were flown to Goma where they will continue working.
“Seventy-one remain on site to ensure as good as possible or at least the minimum support to the Ebola response,” Lindmeier said.
“The frustration, the anger of the population is understandable. But we need law and order restored to carry out vital operations,” he said.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) temporarily relocated 27 staff, leaving 12 in Beni, spokeswoman Marixie Mercado said.
Dr Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said 360 people were at potential risk of Ebola after contact with an infected person in eastern Congo last week and many were out of reach due to clashes and insecurity.
“The violence has to stop. We have enough areas where we cannot go due to violence, military violence or rebel violence going on. So this is bad for the Ebola response,” Lindmeier told the briefing.
There have been 3 303 cases of Ebola, including 2 199 deaths, in the outbreak declared in August 2018. The WHO declared it an international emergency in July 2019.