©UNHCR/ Henri-Sylvain Yakara
Location icon Democratic Republic of the Congo

Volcano eruption displaces thousands in DRC

UNHCR on the ground to assist displaced people in DRC as deadly volcano adds to humanitarian crisis.

The UN Refugee Agency is responding to the urgent needs of thousands of people escaping the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with fears further seismic activity will threaten more lives.

The initial eruption on 22 May destroyed everything in its path leaving thousands of people homeless and an evacuation order issued by authorities for part of the city of Goma has forced more to cross into Rwanda for safety.

This latest disaster comes on top of the over 2 million people already displaced by brutal violence in North Kivu province, of which Goma is the capital. This year alone, 450,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.

UNHCR continues to work with the government, local communities, and other partners to help the internally displaced, offering shelter, core relief items and support for local protection activities, as well as protection monitoring that serves the whole response.

Australia for UNHCR National Director Naomi Steer, who has been on mission to DRC in 2019, said the disaster compounded an existing humanitarian crisis in the region.

“More than 2 million people are already displaced by violence and conflict in the region, adding more distress to people who have experienced so much heartache.

“The lines to reach safety are long and most people are escaping on foot, taking with them what they can.”

People Extension
Residents pick up remains of their destroyed homes from the smoldering lava deposited by the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo volcano near Goma. @REUTERS
Lava 1Extension
On 22 May 2021, DRC's Mount Nyiragongo suddenly erupted, destroying homes and other structures, killing dozens and displacing thousands. @UNHCR

“UNHCR is the leading agency on the ground delivering protection for hundreds of Congolese people who have fled to Rwanda, with many of them separated from their family members,” Naomi adds.

“The UN Refugee Agency is providing emergency support for people who have lost everything. Construction is underway to provide shelter, food, nutrition supplies, water tanks and taps, electricity and facilities to bolster sanitation and hygiene.”

More than 400,000 people have been displaced and thousands more have sought safety in Rwanda.

Seismic tremors continue in Goma, creating long lines of traffic on the exit routes. While the risk of a new eruption may be subsiding, there are warnings that lava could take other routes than through the crater.

Roads remain heavily damaged and the water supply between Usine and Bushara has been affected by the lava flow, cutting off all water supply in the north of Goma city. An increase in the prices of commodities in Sake is also expected, which may lead to further food insecurity and vulnerability for the affected population.

Already we’ve been able to help 4,000 families with emergency shelters to protect them from the rain. But more is needed.

 

We urgently need to scale up our supplies so we can respond to this crisis and save lives.

DONATE NOW

 

 

 

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©UNHCR/ Henri-Sylvain Yakara
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Democratic Republic of the Congo

Volcano eruption displaces thousands in DRC

UNHCR on the ground to assist displaced people in DRC as deadly volcano adds to humanitarian crisis.

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