Persecuted Pygmy group facing ‘devastation’ from Covid-19

Originally published in The Voice

A group of Pygmies from the Democratic Republic of Congo – already fleeing violence – are set to face further devastation as coronavirus enters the nation.

Thousands of the largely Christian Pygmies have been driven from their homes in the country’s North Kivu province – an area where Islamic extremists are seeking to build a caliphate.

Displaced
The displaced population, indigenous to the Congo rainforests, have fled to crowded and often unsanitary internally displaced persons (IDP) camps seeking refuge and safety.

Now, unable to isolate themselves, they face dire consequences from the COVID-19 outbreak.

“A widespread outbreak would be devastating,” says Jo Newhouse, Open Doors’ Head of Communications for Africa. “That’s especially true in the violence-ravaged areas like North Kivu province.

“Christians uprooted by Allied Democratic Force rebels are already facing dire conditions. It will be very hard to practice social distancing in Internally Displaced People’s camps.”

The Congo, which has only just been declared clear of Ebola, currently has now declared a state of emergency in the country, with 98 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and eight deaths so far.

“It will be interesting to see how the recent Ebola outbreak prepared the country for this new danger,” says Newhouse,

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