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UN chief visits Congo

United Nations, United Nations chief Antonio Guterres and senior members of the UN have embarked on a three-day visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where civilians are facing insecurity and ongoing health crises, including a year-long Ebola epidemic which has claimed more than 2,000 lives.

Guterres arrived in the town of Goma, situated in the North Kivu region of the country which is at the centre of the epidemic, on Saturday. There, he was received by Leila Zerrougui, his special representative in the country, and inspected a contingent of UN peacekeepers. The UN chief thanked them for their service and sacrifice, and for putting their lives at risk, in often dangerous conditions, to protect civilians.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, who described the high-level visit as an opportunity to reiterate support for efforts towards peace and stability in the country, joined Guterres on the trip. He declared that the entire United Nations system, including the UN Mission in DRC, MONUSCO, is fully committed to ending the Ebola epidemic.

Civilians in DRC are also dealing with the deadly effects of other diseases, such as measles and malaria, which both claim more victims than Ebola, reminded Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). Mr. Tedros, part of the official UN delegation, said that this is why investments in a health system based on primary health care are so important, to address all health needs in a comprehensive way.

During his visit, his first since taking up office as the head of the UN in January 2017, Guterres will meet senior government officials, actors in the DRC peace process, and the civilian, police and military members of the UN Mission in the country.

Other senior UN officials joining the Secretary-General include the UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes, Michel Kafondo; Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa; Mike Ryan, Executive-Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme; and Ibrahima Soce Fall, WHO Assistant Director-General of Emergency Response.

Source: Saudi Press Agency

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