Thu, Oct 11, 2018 - Page 9 News List

Congo’s conflict makes fighting Ebola, sexual violence risky

Surgeon Denis Mukwege’s Nobel Peace Prize has brought a new round of global calls to end the sprawling conflict and to safeguard health workers across the region

By Cara Anna  /  AP, JOHANNESBURG

The announcement on Friday last week of the Nobel prize, the first in the DRC’s history, brought a burst of jubilation and tears in Panzi hospital as Mukwege was finishing his second operation of the day.

“Hallelujah,” people said, as medical workers in scrubs danced and women wiped their eyes.

The award brought a new round of global calls to end the sprawling conflict and let health workers across the region care for others without fear of violence.

“A durable peace,” the UN secretary-general’s special envoy to the DCR called it while congratulating Mukwege on his win.

However, it is unlikely to be easy. Even as the DRC’s government claimed partial credit for the efforts of the Nobel winner, who has been an outspoken critic, Congolese President Joseph Kabila wants the UN peacekeepers, one of the region’s few stabilizing forces, to prepare for withdrawal.

Congolese and health workers are also bracing for December’s long-delayed presidential election, which could bring fresh unrest. All hope the Ebola outbreak can be ended before then.

The vote “may lead to more violence and make an already unstable situation worse,” Mercy Corps’ deputy country director Whitney Elmer said on Friday.

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