The United Nations says the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has spread to eastern ‘no-go’ zone surrounded by rebels.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) issued the warning on Saturday, highlighting that rebel violence in eastern DRC was escalating inside the vast country’s Ebola-hit North Kivu province, putting millions at risk.

“Thousands of civilians have fled their burned-out villages, bringing reports of brutal attacks," spokesperson for UNHCR,  Andrej Mahecic, said in Geneva.

The latest report followed reports that a case of Ebola infection and one suspected case have been found in one town in the area, Oicha, which is surrounded by armed groups.

The disease has killed more than 60 people and infected dozens more in recent weeks.

Forced displacement in this part of the country remains massive and it is estimated that more than a million people are displaced in North Kivu.

This is the highest concentration of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the DRC, where an estimated half a million people have been forced from their homes this year alone.

Also Read: At Least 103 Ebola Cases Reported In DRC – UN

Also, Dr Peter Salama, WHO Deputy Director-General of Emergency Preparedness and Response, said the discovery of Ebola infection in the hard-to-reach part of eastern DRC could mark a “pivotal” point in the response to the deadly disease.

“It really was the problem we were anticipating and the problem … we were dreading.

“Our teams have responded this week. They’ve had to reach Oicha with armed escorts.

“Once they reach Oicha, they are able to move within Oicha town more freely, because the town itself is a yellow zone from a security perspective,’’ Salama explained.

Mahecic said UNHCR was particularly worried about the deteriorating situation in the Ebola-hit northern territory of Ben, where Oicha town is located.

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The area is home to some 1.3 million people and spiralling conflict has left the population living there, virtually in a state of siege since October 2017.

Reports of increased human rights violations and restrictions of humanitarian access are also frequent.

Estimates are that more than 100 armed groups are active in the province, continually terrorising the population.

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