Maas calls for further aid to fight ebola in congo

Maas calls for further aid to fight ebola in congo

Federal minister heiko maas to call for further aid to fight the ebola epidemic in congo. "We cannot continue to stand idly by and watch the spread of the virus," he said wednesday in bukavu in the east of the central african country.

The dangerous disease has remained unchecked for 13 months. More than 3,000 people have already fallen ill and more than 2,000 have died. All attempts to contain the disease have failed so far.

After the devastating epidemic in west africa in 2014/2015 with more than 11.With the death toll of more than 000, it is now the worst ebola outbreak in the world. The fight is particularly difficult because the security situation in eastern congo is precarious. Armed rebel groups have been terrorizing the population there for years, and ebola aid workers have also been attacked time and again. The world health organization has so far paid for about 250 such attacks.

"Despite major efforts, progress has not yet been what was hoped for," said maas. He met with UN ebola envoy david gressly in goma to learn about the situation.

Gressly said he does not expect congo to reach the level of the epidemic in west africa four years ago. "We are working every day to ensure that this does not happen."At the moment progress is noticeable. But gressly also emphasized: "this is probably the most complicated fight against an ebola epidemic in history."

Maas also wants to talk to president felix tshisekedi in the capital kinshasa on thursday about possible further german ebola assistance. Federal government has already allocated four million euros in ebola emergency aid to congo.

Germany is also contributing hundreds of millions to funds from the world health organization, the united nations and the world bank, some of which are being used for ebola relief. The robert koch institute is also involved in the fight against the disease with individual experts and technical advice.

The auben minister had already arrived on tuesday evening in goma, the capital of north kivu province, which has been particularly hard hit by the disease. He was confronted with the issue of ebola as soon as he arrived: he and all the other members of the delegation had their fevers taken – a check that all passengers at goma airport have had to undergo since the first case of ebola became known in the city of millions.

But aid organizations criticize that this procedure is not working. "In several recent confirmed cases, those affected had been checked at checkpoints without being found to be infected," says oxfam’s corinne N’daw. "It is crucial that local frontline health workers receive better training and equipment"."

However, the main reason for the minister’s visit to eastern congo was not the ebola epidemic, but another problem that is particularly prevalent in congo: sexualized violence against women. For the german government, this was a key focus of the german presidency at the UN security council in april.

Maas visited the hospital in bukavu set up by nobel peace prize winner denis mukwege to treat victims of sexualized violence. There, the 64-year-old gynecologist and his colleagues have already made 54.000 raped women and 42 000 other sick women treated.

Millions of people have died in several civil wars in the congo over the past decades. Some 160 armed rebel groups with around 22,000 fighters are said to still be active in the east of the country today.