Peace Operations at the Intersection of Health Emergencies and Violent Conflict: Lessons from the 2018–2020 DRC Ebola Crisis

VI. Conclusion

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Dirk Druet
Rethinking the Humanitarian Health Response to Violent Conflict

While peacekeeping operations were not a primary actor in the Riposte, this analysis of MONUSCO’s role during the 2018–2020 Ebola crisis in the DRC highlights how one peace operation, deeply embedded in Congo’s conflict, interfaced with a heavily resourced emergency health response with few existing links to the situation in the country’s east. This novel situation, in which an urgent public health emergency overlapped with an ongoing violent conflict, has forced the international peace and security and health and humanitarian communities to approach questions of principle and strategy in new ways. On the one hand, the experience of the Riposte is a lesson in the value of humanitarian principles and the consequences for both the safety of aid workers and the success of the intervention when a health response is politicized and/or securitized. On the other hand, the experience highlights the need for a much more thoughtful, humble, and communicative approach by future international health responses in conflict environments. This, in turn, demands more politically informed and localized approaches that engage with communities on their own terms. To achieve this, greater integration between peace operations and international health responses seems critical. The findings and policy recommendations in this paper aim to help international peace and security and health and humanitarian policy-makers achieve a better balance in this regard.