DR of Congo: UN seeks $15 million to aid town devastated by volcano

DR of Congo: UN seeks $15 million to aid town devastated by volcano

Displaced people flee volcano eruptions
The United Nations today said it would seek $15 million in humanitarian aid for the eastern town of Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where a volcano eruption has forced thousands to flee across the border to Rwanda.

The situation caused by the eruption Thursday of Mount Nyiragongo continued to change, although the needs of people who fled the disaster remains the same, UN relief officials said today.

Former residents of Goma continued to return home from Gisenyi, Rwanda, where they fled after lava flows from the volcano burned half the town, UN officials said. An estimated 50,000 Congolese remained in and around Gisenyi but that number was dropping.

In Goma itself, the distribution systems for both water and electricity were heavily damaged, although the water intake plant on Lake Kivu and the power station were intact.

According to humanitarian workers, water and sanitation, food and non-food items, shelter, and health risks were among the primary concerns. Fears of cholera, polio - which has been eradicated from Rwanda, but which remains endemic in the DRC - and measles were of particular concern to health organizations, as well as respiratory infections.

Among relief efforts by UN aid agencies, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) sent an additional 60 tonnes of emergency supplies, including water purification tablets, rehydration salts and shelter material.

The head of the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC), Amos Namanga Ngongi, is expected to head to Goma tomorrow to assess the situation as the Mission will also be sending 30 tonnes of supplies to the area, a UN spokesman said in New York.

As for the volcano's affect on MONUC, Goma can no longer be used as a logistical base due to the damage sustained at the airport. Lava flowed both on top and beneath the runway rendering it temporarily unusable. The Mission is currently looking at other towns relocate the logistics base.

Meanwhile, the main part of the Moroccan contingent in Goma has been moved to Kisangani, leaving behind a platoon for guard duty at UN installations.