The Security Council today adopted a resolution condemning attacks by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and their role in exacerbating the country’s ongoing Ebola outbreak, while demanding full, safe, immediate and unhindered access for the humanitarian and medical personnel working to save lives and prevent the virus from spreading across the region.
Adopting resolution 2439 (2018) by consensus, the Council reiterated its deep concern about the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s overall security and humanitarian situation, noting that both are exacerbated by the destabilizing activities of foreign and domestic armed groups. Recalling that the country’s Government bears the primary responsibility to protect civilians within its territory — including from crimes against humanity and war crimes — it expressed further concern about the security situation in areas affected by the recent Ebola outbreak and called for the immediate cessation of hostilities by all armed groups, including the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
Condemning in the strongest terms all attacks by armed groups — including those posing serious security risks for responders and jeopardizing the response to the Ebola outbreak — the Council demanded that all parties fully respect international law and ensure full, safe, immediate and unhindered access for humanitarian and medical personnel, as well as their equipment, transport and supplies.
By other terms of the text, the Council stressed the need for the international community to remain engaged in the strengthening of national health systems in line with the needs of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, noting that such efforts are instrumental in preventing a deterioration of the present crisis or addressing a future recurrence. It also emphasized the need for the Government, along with all relevant actors, to enhance efforts to implement — and communicate to the public — the established safety and health protocols and preventive measures to mitigate misinformation and undue alarm about the transmission and extent of the outbreak.
In addition, the Council took note of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) latest risk assessment regarding regional spread, expressing concern about the potential for the virus to expand to Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and Burundi. In that regard, it encouraged the Governments of those countries to continue efforts to prepare for operational readiness and emphasized the importance of maintaining flexible international support — financial, technical and in-kind — to bring the Ebola outbreak successfully under control.
Speaking following the adoption, Taye Atske Selassie (Ethiopia), one of the resolution’s two main co‑sponsors along with Sweden, noted that negotiations on the text were sparked by two recent briefings to the Council from the WHO Director‑General. Commending the leadership of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in responding to the Ebola outbreak, he declared: “Humanitarian actors are operating under enormous difficulties to save lives.” Today’s resolution underscores the need to address the security risks that are complicating those critical efforts even further. Welcoming concerted efforts by WHO and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), he said that while the former has decided that a “public health emergency of international concern” should not be declared at this time, officials remain deeply concerned and have called for intensified and ongoing vigilance.
Carl Skau (Sweden) said the text sends a clear message to all those involved in front‑line response efforts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and neighbouring countries. Emphasizing that those working to save lives on the ground must never become targets themselves, he noted that the text commends the continued leadership of the WHO and other relevant actors and aims to remind all stakeholders of the importance of strengthening national health systems. In addition, it calls for full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access and accelerating funding to combat the outbreak. Noting that Sweden intends to provide additional funding to those efforts, he asked other Member States to consider doing the same, emphasizing that the Democratic Republic of the Congo stands at a pivotal moment in its history.
The meeting began at 10 a.m. and ended at 10:10 a.m.
The full text of resolution 2439 (2018) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Expressing grave concern about the most recent outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the fact that this epidemic is occurring in the context of much wider humanitarian needs, in a country whose people have suffered from the recurrence of the disease, armed conflict and violence for the last few decades,
“Recognizing the recurring threat of the Ebola virus in the region since it was first discovered in 1976 and recalling its Resolution 2177 (2014) concerning the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa,
“Recalling its determination in resolution 2409 (2018) that the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region, and expressing concern that this security situation negatively impacts the ability to respond to and contain the outbreak of the Ebola virus,
“Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and all States in the region, and emphasizing the need for cooperation and coordination with the Democratic Republic of the Congo to address the Ebola situation, as well as with the States in the region, as appropriate,
“Noting the reports presented to the Security Council on 28 August and on 3 October 2018 by the Director‑General of the World Health Organization (WHO),
“Commending the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for its leadership in responding to the Ebola outbreak, particularly for providing free health care in affected health zones, as well as for its daily reporting on the status of the outbreak,
“Expressing appreciation for the efforts of all humanitarian and health workers on the ground, including WHO and its partners in the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network, as well as all other front-line actors involved in the response effort,
“Commending the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) for providing support to the efforts of the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, WHO and other actors to respond to the Ebola outbreak in an extremely challenging and dangerous environment,
“Underscoring the need to address the security situation in the areas affected by the disease and condemning all attacks against civilians,
“Expressing outrage and condemning in the strongest terms the recent attacks and the killings of two Congolese health workers attached to a Congolese army unit helping to combat the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
“Recalling resolution 2286 (2016) and urging all parties to the armed conflict to ensure full, safe, immediate and unhindered access for humanitarian personnel and medical personnel, to patients and others in need; condemning acts of violence, attacks and threats intentionally directed against medical personnel and humanitarian personnel exclusively engaged in medical duties, their means of transport and equipment, as well as hospitals and other medical facilities, exclusively fulfilling a medical or humanitarian function, as a violation of international humanitarian law; and deploring the long‑term consequences of such attacks for the civilian population and the health-care system of the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
“Recalling the International Health Regulations (2005), which are contributing to global public health security by improving the capacity of all countries to detect, assess, notify and respond to public health threats, underscoring the importance of abiding by these commitments and urging Member States to follow the advice of the WHO Director‑General regarding the current Ebola outbreak,
“Taking note of the cross‑border meeting among east African countries held in Entebbe, Uganda, on 3 October 2018, which reviewed the implementation of cross-border disease surveillance activities and the status of emergency preparedness activities in districts that border the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the East African Community; noting the need for awareness creation among district leaders in their roles in implementing the International Health Regulations (2005), and drawing attention to large‑scale population displacements in the region that could contribute to further spread of the Ebola virus,
“Underscoring that the control of outbreaks of major infectious diseases requires urgent action and greater national, regional and international collaboration and, in this regard, stressing the crucial and continued need for a WHO coordinated international response in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in collaboration with the Government,
“Commending Member States and multilateral organizations that have provided crucial assistance, including financial commitments, technical support and in-kind donations, to support the scaling up of emergency efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak and interrupt transmission of the virus, including by providing flexible funds to relevant United Nations agencies and international organizations, facilitating a more rapid and effective response and enabling them and national governments to purchase supplies and enhance emergency operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and neighbouring countries, as well as by collaborating with public and private sector partners to accelerate development of therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics to treat patients and limit or prevent further infection or transmission,
“Welcoming the efforts of the African Union (AU), through the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) in providing support to the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, WHO and its partners through a united, comprehensive and collective response to the outbreak, including through the deployment of healthcare workers to the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
“Emphasizing the role of all relevant United Nations System entities in supporting the national, regional and international efforts to respond to the Ebola outbreak, and recognizing in this regard the leading role of WHO,
“Taking note of the WHO protocols to prevent the transmission of the Ebola virus disease between individuals, organizations and populations, and underlining that the Ebola outbreak can be contained, including through the implementation of established safety and health protocols and other preventive measures that have proven effective,
“1. Reiterates its deep concern regarding the overall security and humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, exacerbated by destabilizing activities of foreign and domestic armed groups, recalls the strategic importance of the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region, and reiterates its call to all signatories to fulfil their respective commitments under this Framework in order to address the root causes of conflict and put an end to recurring cycles of violence, and promote lasting regional development;
“2. Encourages the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, WHO, and other Ebola responders to continue to improve the transparency and accuracy of the daily reporting on the status of the outbreak;
“3. Recalls that the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo bears the primary responsibility to protect civilians within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction, including protection from crimes against humanity and war crimes;
“4. Expresses serious concern regarding the security situation in the areas affected by the Ebola outbreak, which is severely hampering the response efforts and facilitating the spread of the virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the wider region; and calls for immediate cessation of hostilities by all armed groups, including the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF);
“5. Condemns in the strongest terms all attacks by armed groups, including those posing serious security risks for responders and jeopardizing the response to the Ebola outbreak;
“6. Demands that all parties to the armed conflict fully respect international law, including, as applicable, international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including their obligations under the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the obligations applicable to them under the Additional Protocols thereto of 1977 and 2005, and further demands that all parties ensure full, safe, immediate and unhindered access for humanitarian and medical personnel, and their equipment, transport and supplies to the affected areas, and to respect and protect all civilians, including those in the region who are at risk of Ebola, and humanitarian and health workers; stresses that humanitarian response teams and hospitals and other medical facilities providing life-saving assistance and relief to those in need must be respected and protected, and that they must not be a target, in accordance with international law;
“7. Notes the important positive role of MONUSCO, within its existing mandate, in supporting the efforts of the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, WHO and other actors to bring the Ebola outbreak successfully under control and in ensuring, within its area of operations, effective protection of civilians;
“8. Emphasizes the need for the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and all relevant actors providing assistance in response to the Ebola outbreak, to enhance efforts to communicate to the public, as well as to implement, the established safety and health protocols and preventive measures to mitigate against misinformation and undue alarm about the transmission and extent of the outbreak among and between individuals and communities; underscores the need to enhance community engagement working closely with religious leaders, youth and women’s groups and with the families themselves, including in the context of resumed humanitarian assistance efforts;
“9. Emphasizes that men and women are affected differently by the Ebola outbreak and underlines that a gender‑sensitive response that addresses the specific needs of both men and women is required, and stresses the importance of the full, active and meaningful engagement of women in the development of such responses;
“10. Stresses the need for continuous and improved surveillance of those who have been in contact with infected people as well as the need for following up with Ebola survivors, ensuring they are clinically monitored to prevent any delayed clinical manifestations and the risk of sexual transmission of Ebola; underlines the need to provide Ebola survivors with psychological and social support to help them face and overcome possible stigmatization;
“11. Takes note of WHO’s latest assessment of the risk of regional spread and expresses great concern about the potential for the virus to spread into Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and Burundi and encourages those governments to continue efforts to prepare for operational readiness, in full cooperation with WHO;
“12. Emphasizes the importance of maintaining international support and engagement — financially, technically and in-kind — to bring the Ebola outbreak successfully under control; stresses in this context the importance of flexible financial support for the response efforts, enabling a more rapid and effective response, also expresses concern that the overall humanitarian appeal for the Democratic Republic of the Congo remains severely underfunded;
“13. Encourages the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and countries of the region to continue efforts to address and resolve the wider political, security, socioeconomic and humanitarian consequences of the Ebola outbreak, as well as to provide sustainable and responsive public health mechanisms;
“14. Requests all relevant parts of the United Nations System to accelerate their response to the Ebola outbreak, within the overall coordination of WHO, including by supporting the development and implementation of preparedness and operational plans and liaison and collaboration with governments of the region and those providing assistance;
“15. Stresses the need for the international community to remain engaged in supporting the strengthening of national health systems, in line with the needs of the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which are instrumental in preventing a deterioration of the present crisis or addressing a future recurrence;
“16. Welcomes action and results of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme and encourages WHO and the whole United Nations system to build on and benefit from the lessons learned from the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa in 2014, and to continue to further strengthen its technical leadership and operational support, monitor Ebola transmission, assist in identifying existing response needs and partners to meet those needs to facilitate the availability of essential data and hasten the development and implementation of therapies and vaccines according to best clinical and ethical practices;
“17. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”