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ACT Alliance Rapid Response Fund No. 09/2021: Emergency Response to Volcanic Eruption in Goma, 9 June 2021

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Tens of thousands of people are trying to escape the city of Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after authorities issued an evacuation order warning that Mt Nyiragongo volcano could erupt again.

In the afternoon of Saturday the 22nd of May 2021, the town of Goma and its surroundings in North Kivu Province, experienced a sudden eruption of Nyiragongo volcano. Mount Nyiragongo is one of the world's more active volcanoes but there were concerns that its activity had not been properly observed by the Goma Volcano Observatory.

While 32 persons are feared dead, at least 400,000 people are currently internally displaced in DRC while 7,000 persons have fled to Rwanda as refugees. Access to basic health and education services in Goma is disrupted due to destroyed roads, electricity, and water supply networks. There is a likelihood of an outbreak of water-borne disease, many are still injured/ suffering burns, while others are suffering from psychosocial stress. Supply problems and the associated price increases have had far-reaching repercussions, as Goma is one of the major supply hubs for localities in the area.

Ten days after the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano, the tremors, although less spaced than before, are still felt in Goma (North Kivu). In its daily report of Monday, May 31, the provincial crisis unit calls on the local population to be more careful. Nearly 400,000 displaced people have been registered following the Nyiragongo volcanic eruption on May 22 (OCHA). Many children have been separated from their parents, others are placed in transit centers and foster families, following the chaos created by the volcanic eruption and earthquakes in Goma. UNICEF and its partners are working to ensure the protection of these children and specially to spare them from the risk of cholera in the city and in Sake, where several families have found refuge. At least two hundred and fifty-two people living with disabilities on the move in Sake due to the Nyiragongo volcano eruption are threatening to return to Goma. The alert was issued on Monday May 31 by the Association for the Social Integration of the Physically Handicapped (AISHIP).

In addition, five schools and several health infrastructure were destroyed by the lava. The volcano left a large field filled with lava approximately 1500ha (including 500ha taken from Goma Town). It is reported that at least 5,000 households have lost their homes and property.