"We are now extremely concerned that several factors may be coming together over the next weeks and months to create a ideal storm", WHO's head of emergency response Peter Salama told a news conference in Geneva on Tuesday. "A flawless storm of active conflict, limiting our ability to access civilians, distress by segments of the community, already traumatized by decades of conflict and of murder".
At least 69 deaths have been confirmed and 31 probable since the DRC's ministry of health declared the deadly disease outbreak in North Kivu Province last month, according to September 23 situation report.
Salama said it was unclear when operations might resume but that an official mourning period is expected to last until Friday. "Do not let these tragic incidents divide us", he said. "Our operations are in effect suspended".
Being on lockdown there, even for a few days, prevents health workers from the crucial work of tracing people who may have come into contact with Ebola, Salama warned.
This latest outbreak in the country's east has infected at least 118 people, including 69 people who have died, according to Congo's Health Ministry.
WHO warns of 'perfect storm' for Ebola in eastern Congo
In addition to the security risk, a minority of the local population is deeply mistrustful of government and United Nations health workers. "An added complication here is that some of these fighters may have been exposed to Ebola, and yet they'll be even more hard to track down than ordinary civilians".
A previous outbreak in a remote part of northwestern part of the country near the Congo River was stamped out after a massive response, yet the ongoing outbreak was discovered a week later, at the start of August.
Attacks by armed opposition groups in Ebola-hit North Kivu province have risen in recent weeks, with a deadly raid on the town of Beni forcing the World Health Organization to suspend its work, the agency's emergency response chief, Peter Salama, told reporters.
One of the armed groups in DRC which pose a threat to civilians and the global response to Ebola, the ADF - Allied Democratic Forces - has sufficient military capacity to ambush blue helmets from the UN'a Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) and government forces - the FARDC.
"This has the potential to spiral", Salama said.
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