Last week, over 50 people have been killed in the region of Beni. Meanwhile, though great strides have been made in the fight against Ebola, the virus remains a threat. In addition, a measles outbreak has claimed over 6000 lives throughout Congo.
Though these horrific realities are not new to our community in Beni, we are committed to keeping our supporters informed and aware of the current situation. We continue to covet your thoughts and prayers for our community in Beni as they continue to courageously invest in the lives of others and work to create positive change even against all odds.
The Killings in Beni
As a recent article by the New Humanitarian (formerly IRIN News) provides an in-depth look and summary of recent attacks in the Beni region. The article provides the following summary:
- More than 260 dead, thousands displaced in past 12 weeks alone.
- Most of the victims have been women and children, the UN says.
- ADF militant group blamed, but others may also be responsible.
- Killings have sparked protests against local authorities and UN peacekeepers.
- Ebola relief efforts have been hampered at a crucial juncture.
- Many civilians say they don’t know why they are being attacked.
The resurgence of these attacks and their intensity is deeply troubling. The attacks often target civilians and as noted above, more than 260 people have been killed in 12 weeks alone. According to a toll compiled by a civil society organization, the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), over 300 people have been killed in the Beni region in the past year (265 since the Army launched an offensive against rebel groups on October 30th).
Though the ADF is the suspected group carrying out these attacks, there is doubt whether the ADF is the sole actor. As the TNH articles suggests: “In the recent wave of killings, residents, civil society groups, and Congo analysts all told TNH they doubted that the group is the only one involved in the current violence. They believe the military and other armed groups may also be playing a role.”
The Ebola Outbreak
As the graph below from the World Health Organization’s recent report indicates, the Ebola situation has improved. However, in the last 21 day period reported (January 6 – 26, 2020), 27 confirmed cases were reported with 16 in the Beni health zone.
As of January 28, 2020:
Total of 3420 cases (3301 confirmed & 119 probable), including 2240 deaths, 1151 survivors, and patients still under care.
Though the security concerns could hamper progress in the fight against Ebola, our community remains hopeful that the situation will improve and the virus eradicated this year.
Though the Ebola outbreak has consumed most of the media’s attention, the measles epidemic has actually proven more deadly. More than 6,000 people have died since early 2019 (25% are children under 5). Routine vaccination coverage is low, as people (and particularly children) in remote areas remain unprotected from the disease. Though cases have been recorded, the North Kivu province is one of the least affected provinces.
Congo Initiative continues to monitor these situations closely, communicating regularly with staff in Beni as well as those currently located in other parts of East Africa. We are inspired by our community’s dedication to working towards transformation and bringing hope to people devastated by violence and disease. They continue to serve as agents of transformation and offer comfort, healing, encouragement, and inspiration for the people of Beni.
On February 2, 2020, UCBC chaplaincy and the ECC (Eglise du Christ au Congo/Church of Christ in Congo) organized a city-wide day of prayer in Beni. Hundreds gathered to lift up prayers for peace in the region and an end to the Ebola outbreak. We ask you to join them with your own thoughts and prayers as we also remember that God calls us to be people of both prayer and action. At Congo Initiative, we will continue to serve as a beacon of hope and work towards a brighter future for Congo.
For Further Information:
Gruesome attacks deepen instability in Congo (The New Humanitarian)
Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (World Health Organization)
Kivu Security Tracker
Congo Research Group
Measles Outbreak Report (ReliefWeb)
For questions or further information, please contact CI’s Communications Director, Justin Hubbard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-806-7297.