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Unknown forces attack Butembo Ebola treatment center



Today, doctors without borders said that an Ebola treatment center (ETC) in Butembo in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was attacked, and reports of social media suggested that the building had been set on fire.

"Tonight, another regrettable attack on an Ebola treatment facility has been held this time in the town of Butembo," said Hugues Robert, MSF's emergency desk director, in a press release. "This follows the attack last week at another MSF Ebola treatment center in nearby Katwa. This attack has not only jeopardized the lives of Ebola patients and their families, but also the MSF and Ministry of Health officials."

Currently there is no word from Doctors Without Borders on the number of fatalities and injuries, if any. MSF's ETC in Katwa was suspended on February 24, and MSF was forced to suspend activities there yesterday.

Butembo ETC is the largest built in the 8 months DRC has fought for an Ebola outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri provinces with New cases announced daily.

The region is home to dozens of paramilitary and rebel forces, especially the Allied democratic forces. Since the outbreak began in August this year, many outbreaks of violence against health workers and attacks on clinics have been reported. The insurgency forces have also conducted disinformation campaigns on how Ebola is transferred and treated.

According to data from MSF, January 27, Butembo ETC had granted 1

,400 patients, with Benis ETC (1,370 admissions) the second busiest. And the Butembo Center had confirmed 197 Ebola patients compared to 41 at Beni ETC.

Katwa ETC, before the attack this week, had admitted 602 patients, including 49 confirmed cases since December, according to an MSF update yesterday

New wave of violence

Butembo with Katwa is one of the most active Ebola hotspots reporting several new cases in recent days.

The Katwa ETC attack resulted in a death. However, the 10 Ebola patients treated at the clinic were safely transported to other ETCs. Yesterday, MSF said Katwa ETC would be closed indefinitely.

On February 20, officials of the DRC said that a nurse had been abducted and murdered in Vuhovi.

The incidents may represent a new wave of violence following spikes of Ebola activity. In the early months of the outbreak, the violence was focused on Beni and Mblanka, the first cities facing the deadly virus.

According to the World Health Organization's (WHO) Ebola dashboard, officials reported 4 cases today in the outbreak, increasing the outbreak to 879 infections, of which 814 have been confirmed. The death certificates remain at 551.

See also:

Feb 27 MSF Ebola update

Feb 26 MSF Ebola update

WHO Ebola dashboard

26. February CIDRAP News story "MSF suspends work at Katwa Ebola center as WHO seeks more support"


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