Three volunteers of the Red Cross Society were on Tuesday injured after being attacked while carrying out a safe burial of one Ebola victim in Butembo in the North Kivu area east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

DRC map
Democratic Republic of the Congo/CIA

In a statement issued on October 4, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said two of the volunteers were seriously wounded. They are now receiving medical care in Kinshasa.

The organization said while its teams have previously faced violence and aggression against the safe and dignified burial protocols for Ebola victims in the past, Tuesday’s attack was the most violent incidence of community resistance.

“This is an awful reminder of the dangers that these volunteer safe and dignified burials teams face. While we categorically denounce the attack on our colleagues, we understand the fear and frustration that many communities in North Kivu feel right now.

“People are scared and there are many rumours circulating that only serve to heighten the sense of fear and distrust,” said Dr Dr Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Regional Director for Africa.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the body of a person who died from Ebola is highly infectious. If not handled properly, it may contaminate others and further spread the disease. Safe burials are considered critical to stopping the spread of the disease.

President of the Red Cross Society in the DRC Grégoire Mateso Mbuta said communities in North Kivu should cooperate with local volunteers in order to avoid contracting Ebola.

The 180 Red Cross volunteers working on the frontline of the Ebola outbreak in North Kivu, are mostly locals. To date, they have conducted 162 safe burials, and continue to provide psycho-social support to people infected and affected by the Ebola outbreak.