The sky turned red and on Saturday lava spat out of the volcano. Thousands fled the city of two million people in the south. Up to five people may have died during the evacuation, and some homes in northern Goma have reportedly been lost.
More than 150 children have been separated from their families and more than 170 children are feared missing as people fled the city of Goma after a massive volcanic eruption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – UNICEF (@UNICEF) May 23, 2021
According to UNICEF, more than 150 children have been separated from their families and it is feared that more than 170 will be missing.
More than 5,000 people crossed the Goma-Rwanda border when the slow-moving lava spat, and at least 25,000 were displaced in sake, 25 kilometers northwest of Goma, the agency said.
“Most people are slowly returning home, however, as the lava has stopped flowing this morning,” the press release said. They fear hundreds will return to find damaged homes and severely disrupt water and electricity supplies.
It is not yet clear how many households are affected by the outbreak, UNICEF said. Many children near Goma Airport are homeless and destitute.
A UNICEF team was deployed in the affected areas of Sake, Buhene, Kibati and Kibumba to ensure an initial response. This includes installing chlorination water points in and around sake to limit the spread of cholera.
The agency is stepping up surveillance for the deadly water-borne disease, particularly in Goma itself, after residents return.
In close cooperation with the Congolese authorities, two transit centers for unaccompanied and separated children are being set up.
UNICEF said it would work with partners to refer cases of gender-based violence or abuse and provide adequate medical and psychosocial support.
MONUSCO “closely monitor”
The UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO, tweeted earlier Sunday that the mission’s helicopters had carried out reconnaissance flights over the crater, including on Sunday morning, and that they had “closely monitored the situation”.
In the last Nyiragongo eruption in 2002, well over 100,000 people were left homeless and around 250 people reportedly killed. It’s one of the most active volcanoes in the world and the deadliest eruption from the lava lake, reportedly causing the deaths of more than 600 people in 1977.