Kinshasa/Nairobi/Geneva, 22 May 2018 The response to the deadly Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is far from over, says the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) as it announces an expansion of its operation.

“We must remain vigilant and we need to continue strengthening community based-surveillance. The risk of spreading within the country and to neighbouring nations remains real,” said Dr Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, IFRC’s Regional Director for Africa. “One of the lessons we learned in our response to other deadly Ebola outbreaks is that complacency can kill.”

IFRC is not leaving anything to chance. Today it is launching an international emergency appeal for 1.6 million Swiss francs to support the Red Cross of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to support more than 716,000 people over the coming six months.

“Our emergency operation includes a major focus on safe and dignified burials. This was a critical intervention in West Africa where it prevented as many as 10,000 additional cases,” said Dr Nafo-Traoré.

At least 27 people have died in an outbreak that was first confirmed on 8 May in Bikoro health zone, a remote part of the country. Twenty-eight cases have been confirmed to be Ebola. Four of these have been in Mbandaka, a major urban city.

IFRC and the DRC Red Cross are working as part of a larger coordinated response alongside government authorities, the World Health Organization and other international and national partners. The main role of Red Cross teams in the response is to use their unique community presence and access to facilitate early detection and fight transmission. Local Red Cross volunteers have been deployed in Bikoro, surrounding communities and Mbandaka, to support communities.

We have responded to all past Ebola outbreaks in the country and have a strong, in-country network of experts,” said Grégoire Mateso, President of the DRC Red Cross.

“We are calling on partners to invest more substantially in local capacity. Red Cross volunteers are uniquely placed to reach all parts of affected communities, with life-saving information and humanitarian aid.”

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