AFRICA/DR CONGO - Catholic parish and hospital in Birambizo looted: vaccination campaign against measles ruined

Wednesday, 15 February 2023 armed groups   healthcare   local churches  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - Among the buildings looted on February 13 by the M23 rebels in Birambizo, in the Bukombo group, Rutshuru territory, in North Kivu (eastern Democratic Republic of Congo), there is also the local Catholic parish.
In addition to the parish, the rebels systematically looted the Birambizo health center, which is the main health facility for the inhabitants of the area.
According to Radio Okapi (sponsored by the UN Mission in the DRC), it is the second consecutive time in a few days that the Birambizo hospital has been vandalized by rebels and their allies.
The assailants took everything: equipment, medicine, food, solar panels, even mattresses. "They spared nothing", says a hospital source.
Particularly serious is the theft of solar panels used to power refrigerators intended to store vaccines. Some 6,000 doses of measles vaccines have gone to waste as health workers prepared to carry out the measles vaccination campaign in and around the Birambizo health area. Now there is a risk of harmful consequences for the inhabitants of the region, with an explosion of measles cases in the community. Other types of vaccines also went bad.
Patients in health centers had to leave their beds to avoid further trauma.
As is known (see Fides, 14/2/2023) in order to put an end to the attacks perpetrated by the M23, the East African Community (EAC) had recently decided to speed up the process of withdrawal and demobilization of guerrilla elements in the east from the DRC.
According to an information note, M23 men have until March 10 to withdraw from Karenga, Kilolirwe, Kitchanga, Kibumba and Rumangabo. Ten days later, on March 20, they must leave Kishishe, Bambo, Kazaroho, Tongo and Mabenga. The last phase of the withdrawal of the M23 elements will take place on March 30, with their departure from Rutshuru, Kiwanja and Bunagana.
After the effective withdrawal of the latter from the occupied areas, the Burundian army will occupy the towns of Sake, Kilolirwe and Kitchanga; the South Sudanese and Kenyan armies will take up positions in Rumangabo; the Kenyan army will take up positions in Kibumba, Tongo, Bwiza and Kishishe; while the Ugandan army will take control of Bunagana, Kiwanja and Mabega. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 15/2/2023)