Weekly briefing: The world’s fastest-moving health epidemic

A weekly round-up of relevant IEP data providing insight into the world around us.

Friday, 22 November 2019: The world’s largest and fastest-moving health epidemic continues to infiltrate every province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The measles has killed nearly 5000 people this year in the DRC, with close a quarter of a million cases reported, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Despite the roll-out of an emergency vaccination program in September, international health bodies and the national government continue to battle with the outbreak. In 2018, routine measles immunisation coverage was only 57% in DRC and the epidemic’s spread follows this insufficient vaccination rate, alongside pervasive malnutrition. Meanwhile, the measles forms only part of a triple-health threat within the country, which also continues to fight Ebola, as well cholera. Authorities say that while tremendous efforts are being made to curb the spread of the deadly disease, continued armed conflict and insecurity in the eastern part of the country stop medical assistance programs from reaching those in need.

DRC slips back into list of 10 countries most impacted by terrorism

Global Peace Index ranking: 155 out of 163 countries
Global Terrorism Index ranking:
10 out of 163 countries

Increasing terrorist activity in the DRC has brought the Central African country back onto the list of top ten countries most impacted by terrorism.

In 2018, number of terrorist attacks rose 18 per cent from the previous year, and the most frequent forms of terrorism were hostage takings and armed assaults, together comprising 84 per cent of attacks.

DRC previously ranked in the top ten countries most-impacted by terrorism in 2009 and 2010.

Renewed action from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), Democratic Front for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and Mayi Mayi groups is driving the increased impact of terrorism in the country, mainly affecting the eastern Kivu regions, which border Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

Both the ADF and FDLR committed twice as many terrorist attacks and killed more than double the number of people in 2018 than in the previous year.

The year 2018 also saw an increase in Mayi Mayi (Congolese Swahili for “Water Water”) terrorist activity. The Mayi Mayi are a loose collection of local militias based in the Kivu regions, some of whom engage in terrorism. The groups most active in terrorism in 2018 were the Hapa Na Pale, Malaika, Mazembe, Yakutumba and Raia Mutomboki militias, collectively committing ten attacks.

Terrorism affects North Kivu the most. The region accounts for over half of attacks and 69 per cent of deaths in 2018. This part of the DRC also witnessed the deadliest attack, in which at least 19 civilians and eight assailants were killed. North Kivu also saw terrorist groups abducting children, with at least nine abducted by the ADF and at least three by the Mazembe Mai-Mai militia in 2018.

The ADF, FDLR and several Mai-Mai groups were once again listed by the United Nations as credibly suspected of committing conflict-related sexual violence in 2018.