Disasters & Accidents

Volcanic eruption leaves 350,000 in need of urgent aid in DR Congo

Geneva, Jun 1 (EFE).- Some 350,000 people are in need of urgent humanitarian aid in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), following a volcanic eruption, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR estimated that 450,000 people had to evacuate to the towns of Rutshuru and Sake from Goma, a city of about 2 million inhabitants.

Many of those displaced are traumatized and taking shelter in overcrowded churches, schools or with host families, according to the UNHCR.

“Many people have been taken in by host families… People are generously helping the displaced, sharing what little they have,” said Jackie Keegan, head of the UNHCR office in Goma.

The agency said it has been “providing communal shelters to decongest schools and churches, and core relief items including, tarpaulins, blankets, and hygiene kits.”

Almost half of those displaced are under 18 years of age, according to estimates from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

“At least 28 percent of the displaced (are) coming from vulnerable groups. This includes children under five, breastfeeding women, the chronically ill, pregnant women, unaccompanied children, elderly people and those with mental health issues and physical disabilities,” said the IOM.

On May 22, Mount Nyiragongo volcano erupted about 20 kilometers north of Goma, with hot lava sliding towards the city.

Keegan said the city has “experienced more than a thousand earthquakes and tremors following the eruption, most of them small, but some strong enough to level buildings.” EFE


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