At least 1,000 Africans have died in the latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as the white medical personnel sent in by the US’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have had to be withdrawn following repeated attacks by the locals.
According to a report in the Independent newspaper in Uganda, the “Trump administration has barred U.S. health experts who want to help”—the epicenter of the latest outbreak of the deadly disease is in the city of Beni in the DRC.
The Ugandan newspaper said that the CDC sent in a team “for a few days in late August and early September” but then withdrew, and “experts” said it was an “unusually short period of time for infectious disease responses. The CDC deployments usually last at least four weeks, and many run for several months,” the paper said.
The real reason for the CDC withdrawal was then revealed: the White House’s National Security Council (NSC) coordinated a government review of the security risks, involving representatives from multiple government agencies and departments, and concluded that CDC officials could not return to areas where militant attacks threaten security, including Beni.
The outbreak started in July and has worsened in recent weeks, after a spate of violent attacks on civilians by Congolese “rebels” temporarily halted the public health response.
CDC Director Robert Redfield told media that he wants CDC officials on the ground in the DRC’s eastern region to help with the outbreak response, but that he was overruled by security concerns. “The (Ebola responders are) at an enormous disadvantage by not having the expertise the CDC has on the ground,” he said.
The Ugandan newspaper said that the CDC has “only 18 staff deployed abroad to help with the Ebola response, and not all of them are even in the DRC (outside of the outbreak’s epicenter) — they are spread out in Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Switzerland as well.”
Just last week, Congolese “rebels” killed 15 civilians and abducted a dozen children in an attack in the center of the latest outbreak.
The Ebola outbreak in the DRC was declared on Aug. 1, and has been centered on North Kivu Province, which borders Uganda and Rwanda. It is the 10th outbreak of the disease in the country since 1976. Ebola is caused by the locals eating “bush meat”—animals such as bats found dead in the jungle, which then infect the Africans with a virus. The disease then spreads further through body fluids.