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DRC: Families Fleeing Volcano are Starving

May 29, 2021

Powerful tremors were felt on Saturday morning in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Families have fled from an expected second volcanic eruption. Al Jazeera reports that people are without food and water, some having not eaten since Thursday.

According to Al Jazeera, scores of people lost their lives when one of the world’s most active volcanoes, that of Mount Nyiragongo, sent lava fleeing towards the nearby city of Goma almost a week ago. Thousands of homes were along the way. Reports read that the lava stopped flowing just before the city, but that thousands of people fled on Thursday following government warnings that the volcano could erupt again at any time.

The DRC government said on Saturday that the new eruption, which was reportedly small, was not believed to be a threat. The communication ministry said in a statement, “The lava is flowing in an uninhabited area within Virunga Park.” One woman who had fled said, “They told us that there will be a second eruption and that there will be a big gas explosion. But since we moved, there is nothing here … We are starving.” Others complained that the water available was giving their children diarrhea, and of having to sleep at the roadside.

Al Jazeera reports that “people have lost everything they own”, and that there was  “almost zero support from the government’s public services.”

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, meanwhile, has called for “urgent global support” to manage the crisis. Further, Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF’s representative in the DRC, said that the risk of a cholera outbreak had increased, adding that urgent international assistance was required to prevent a potential disaster for children. According to the Fund, roughly 400 000 people were in need of support or protection.

Volcanologists say an eruption under the lake will be catastrophic, as hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide, currently dissolved deep in the water, could be released, displacing the oxygen, and thus resulting in suffocation of all life forms. However, Celestin Kasareka Mahinda of the OVG said he did not believe there would be a second eruption, as the frequency and intensity of the tremors had decreased in the last 24 hours.

Umm Muhammed Umar

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