Kinshasa, DRC, May 23, 2021 — The IRC is extremely concerned about the aftermath of the Mount Nyiragongo volcano eruption yesterday. Thousands of people fled their homes last night as the lava approached the main city of Goma, home to more than 2 million people. All IRC staff are safe and accounted for. At least six villages have been destroyed. Local authorities have not yet been able to confirm the number of people killed. The last eruption in 2002 killed more than 250 people and left 120,000 people homeless. The IRC plans to respond, providing assistance to meet the most urgent needs, and is calling for an increase in funding and support from the international community.
Kate Moger, Regional Vice President of the Great Lakes, at the IRC, said
“The memory of the 2002 eruption is still raw, and yesterday’s eruption has led to mass displacement. People are fearing a second eruption. It’s still too early to assess the extent of the damage, but the humanitarian impact is already significant. IRC will begin a needs assessment as soon as it is safe, and we are already seeing many children who have been separated from their parents and carers and people sheltering in government buildings (and schools, etc) in Goma. The IRC has been working in the DRC for 25 years, and we are preparing our response, which will launch as soon as possible.
“This region is still reeling from two Ebola outbreaks, the severe impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak which has led to massive food insecurity, and years of conflict and violence. This catastrophic event will compound the already dire situation facing the Congolese people in the region. There are already 5.2 million people displaced within DRC from previous conflict and disasters; the highest number of people displaced within any country in Africa. We are there and ready, but we need more funds to help us reach those in need.”
The Nyiragongo volcano, which overlooks the eastern city of Goma, is one of the most active in the world. It erupted on Saturday, May 22, prompting thousands of people to flee to Rwanda and other parts of DRC. The last eruption in 2002 was devastating and led to major humanitarian needs. DRC authorities are saying this eruption appears similar to that in 2002. People will need shelter, water and sanitation, economic support, protection and psychosocial support.
The IRC has been working in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1996 responding to the humanitarian crisis in the east. It has since evolved into one of the largest providers of humanitarian assistance and post-conflict development, with life-saving programming in health, economic recovery, women’s and children’s protection, and livelihoods.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and over 20 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.