UN boosts aid as DRC evacuates residents in fear of new volcano eruption

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Representative Image
Representative Image

Kinshasa [Congo], May 29 (ANI/Xinhua): The United Nations (UN) has expanded humanitarian relief to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as the country has evacuated residents from Goma in case of another volcanic eruption.

The humanitarian focus has been on people directly affected by the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo volcano on May 22 in the northeastern province of North Kivu, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Friday.

However, with new mass displacement of people following a new evacuation order, the focus is widening, and new assessments will take place in areas where people have moved to, said the UN body.

Thousands of people are displaced and on the move following a state evacuation order of 10 districts in Goma, capital of North Kivu, it said. Water, sanitation, and disease outbreak prevention are among the priorities, it added.

Nearly 400,000 people were evacuated since Thursday from Goma and its surroundings to areas designated by authorities as a precaution against the risk of another eruption, according to DRC authorities.

The evacuation came after the province's military governor, General Constant Ndima, warned about a possible fresh volcanic eruption following intense seismic activity in Goma at the foot of the Nyiragongo volcano, as well as in surrounding areas and neighboring Rwanda.

"Current data of seismicity and soil deformation indicate the presence of magma under the urban area of Goma with an extension under Lake Kivu," the governor said, noting that another eruption might occur with very little or no warning signs.

The authorities relocated the majority of Goma's residents to the city of Sake, while some other residents chose to cross the border into Rwanda's Gisenyi where the local government offers shelter for the affected people.

The nearby town of Sake, 25 km northwest of Goma, is an area prone to cholera outbreaks where at least 19 suspected cases have been recorded in the last two weeks, said the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

It warned that the chaos of the latest exodus will result in more children being separated from their families. The agency anticipates up to 280,000 children face displacement in the new evacuation.

The eruption of the volcano on May 22 has killed at least 32 people, while about 2,000 homes have been destroyed, according to local authorities.

Lava, ash and gas destroyed houses, schools and health structures, affected water and electricity supply systems, and cut off roads. (ANI/Xinhua)

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