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DR Congo: More Than 170 Children Feared Missing Following Volcanic Eruption In Goma


The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on
Sunday
that hundreds of children and families in the
Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Goma district are at
risk following the volcanic eruption of Mount
Nyiragongo.

The sky turned red and lava spewed from
the volcano on Saturday, causing thousands to flee the city
of two million, located just to the south. News reports
indicate up to five may have died during the evacuation, and
some houses have reportedly been lost in the north of
Goma.

UNICEF said that more
than 150 children have been separated from their families
and more than 170 are feared to be missing.

More than
5,000 people crossed the border into Rwanda from Goma as the
slow-moving lava spewed, and at least 25,000 were displaced
in Sake, 25 kilometers northwest of Goma, said the
agency.

“However, most people are slowly making
their way back home since the lava has stopped flowing this
morning”, according to the press release, noting concern
that hundreds are returning to find homes damaged, and water
and electricity supply severely disrupted.

Children
destitute

It is not yet clear how many households
have been affected by the eruption, said UNICEF. Scores of
children in the area near Goma’s airport have been left
homeless and destitute.

A UNICEF team has been
deployed in the affected areas of Sake, Buhene, Kibati and
Kibumba to provide first-line response, which includes
installing chlorination water points in and around Sake to
limit the spread of cholera.

The agency is
strengthening surveillance for the deadly water-borne
disease, especially in Goma itself, following residents’
return.

Two transit centres are being established for
unaccompanied and separated children, working closely with
Congolese authorities.

UNICEF said it would work with
partners to refer any cases of gender-based violence or
abuse, to provide adequate medical and psychosocial
support.

MONUSCO ‘closely monitoring’

The
UN peacekeeping mission in DRC, MONUSCO,
tweeted earlier on Sunday that helicopters from the mission
had made reconnaissance flights over the crater, including
on Sunday morning, and it was “closely monitoring the
situation.”

The last time Nyiragongo erupted in
2002, well over 100,000 were left homeless and around 250
people were reportedly killed. It is one of the world’s
most active volcanoes and the deadliest eruption from the
lava lake, reportedly led to the death of more than 600, in
1977.

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