The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) is in the grips of its worst-ever Ebola outbreak, and the second largest ever after the 2014 West Africa outbreak. The current outbreak which began on 1 August has spread to 23 health zones in North Kivu and Ituri provinces.

This outbreak is incredibly complex. It is unfolding in a region affected by a two-decades-long conflict that has claimed countless lives and deprived millions of even the most basic needs and services. The humanitarian needs are great, the situation for millions of people is unbearable, and people’s coping mechanisms are continuously being eroded. The current Ebola outbreak is only making things worse for the Congolese, while violence and insecurity make the response extremely challenging.

On 11 June, Uganda confirmed the first of three Ebola cases near the border of DR Congo, but luckily, local transmission did not occur. However, the risk of further spread to additional health zones, neighbouring provinces, and in neighbouring countries including Uganda, Rwanda and elsewhere, remains very high.

The Red Cross Movement is at the forefront of the community response with DRC Red Cross volunteers, many of whom live and work in Ebola-affected communities. Red Cross volunteers are playing a vital role in maintaining a strong dialogue with communities, ensuring questions, misbeliefs and rumours are discussed and addressed regularly. They are also taking a lead role in conducting safe and dignified burials to reduce transmission in communities and are supporting hospitals and health facilities with infection prevention and control measures. A dedicated team is also providing crucial psychosocial support to the 1,400 volunteers active in the response in DRC.

The response also includes protecting people in prisons from Ebola. We are working in prisons in the affected areas to improve infection prevention control measures so that people in detention can be monitored for Ebola-like symptoms and isolated quickly if needed.

Download: Responding to the Ebola outbreak in DR Congo: July update

Publication date: 05/07/2019

Document status: Final