Access to water and hygiene, shelter for the night, protection from violence: after the eruption of the Nyragongo volcano, attention is focused on the needs of the population already exhausted by the humanitarian crisis
Goma, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. The earth trembles after the eruption of the Nyragongo volcano. Aftershocks, some of which are very violent, which are repeated frequently, every 10 minutes in the first 24 hours, then more scattered and which increase the stress of the population.
“The situation is still chaotic – our head of mission in Congo Gigliola Pantera says – during the night about 20 thousand people fled the city, at first towards the border with Rwanda, then headed west. Many neighborhoods have suffered damage and there is where our teams are heading to participate in a joint assessment of key humanitarian needs”.
The lava has in fact lapped the outer areas of the city of Goma, stopping just before the airport. In addition to displacing thousands of people, the eruption damaged the supply of clean water. An additional risk for an already exhausted population, while UNICEF has raised the alarm on 170 missing children and 150 separated from their families.
“Let me say it: it is starting to be really too much for these people – our head of mission writes as she tells us about the situation via whatsapp – we are in the heart of one of the most serious humanitarian crises in the world: for the indiscriminate levels of violence to which the population is subject , for the health and nutritional situation, for the difficulty of humanitarian access due to the increasingly precarious security conditions. Even for those fleeing the volcano, leaving the city means putting themselves in danger”.
Goma itrself has recently experienced troubled months, between the action of armed groups and the violent protests of the population. A growing instability which, at the beginning of May, led the Congolese government to declare a state of siege in the two eastern provinces of North Kivu and Ituri.
Nyragongo volcano, considered one of the most dangerous in the world, has already been the protagonist of violent eruptions in the past, the last of which, still etched in the memory of the population, dates back to 2002.