UN peacekeepers rush to aid of landslide victims in eastern DR Congo

19 May 2010

United Nations peacekeepers today rushed in all-terrain vehicles and other relief after an overflowing river caused a landslide on the slopes of a major volcano in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), burying at least 46 people and washing away 200 homes.

“Our aim is to take care of the vulnerable population until the humanitarian organizations take over and provide those displaced with the necessary aid for their return,” UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) spokesperson Madnodje Mounoubai told the UN News Centre.

Mr. Mounoubai noted that MONUC forces have so far found 16 bodies thanks to the use of the all-terrain vehicles on the slopes of Nyiragongo volcano which overlooks Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.

“The search for the missing is continuing. Meanwhile, MONUC is urgently tending to the displaced people, who are staying close to their villages, and providing food.”

He declined to estimate the number of people displaced by the disaster, which the Congolese press put at some 5,000. The landslide was apparently triggered earlier this week when a river overflowed after days of heavy rain.

The affected area is not at any security risk, being some way from the main zone of conflict with rebel forces which have sown havoc across the eastern DRC, killing thousands and driving hundreds of thousands of others from their homes.

The 11-year-old MONUC has helped restore a measure of stability and democratic process to a country, torn apart by years of civil war and revolts that led to the greatest death toll since World War II – 4 million people killed by fighting and the attendant starvation and disease. But strife still persists in the east and other areas of the vast country.


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