Environment & Climate ChangeNews

DR Congo: Mount Nyiragongo Eruption Victims Cry Out For Assistance 

Some victims of the volcanic eruption of Mount Nyiragongo have cried out for assistance, as they are still battling serious humanitarian crisis almost a year after the sad incident which took place on May 22, 2021.

The growing humanitarian gaps is also because most of the international humanitarian organisations that rushed to the aid of the victims have disengaged after the emergency finances they raised, immediately after the disaster, ran out.

Most of the victims have been living under very precarious conditions in camps without food and water. Women and children are the most affected and most of them have been obliged to do farming and other menial jobs in order to keep body and soul together.

“We have not stopped saying that we live under very difficult conditions here in Kayembe. My husband died in the eruption leaving me with five orphans. Some women whom I know are left with ten children to feed after having lost their husbands. We are obliged to work for other persons even though we are paid pittances. With this kind of little money, it is difficult for us to meet up with our basic needs. Besides, it is difficult for us to find work here because the people here were living under very difficult conditions even before the volcanic eruption”, one of the widows in Kayembe disclosed.

Water-borne and other diseases that can lead to death have been identified in Kayembe due to the lack of water, food and medicine. At least three children have died at the site.

“There is no water in the tanks for several weeks now. Women are suffering from urinary infections and other pathologies due to the absence of water and toilets. It is really hell here”, another woman added.

“They should allow us to go and build on our own land which is covered by lava because it is already cool. After the eruption of 2002, people reconstructed their houses, why can’t we? Why are they leaving us to suffer on this site?”, asked Musubao Germain, another eruption victim at the Kayembe site.

Katembo Syauswa, the spokesperson for the victims confirmed cases of malnutrition among children.

“We have already recorded at least three deaths on this site of Kayembe due to the mishandling of eruption victims,” Katembo said angrily.

Certain initiatives are however being put in place in order to assist the victims. One of such initiatives is that of Adele Bazizane Maheshe, a provincial parliamentarian of Nyiragongo who has brought Irish potatoes from her farm to the victims.

“These people are suffering enormously, especially the women and children. I seize this opportunity to ask the military governor, Lt.-General Constant Ndima as well as other persons of goodwill come to the assistance of the victims before a definitive solution is found for their problems,” Adele Bazizane explained.

The eruption of Mount Nyiragongo resulted in the deaths of at least 32 persons in the town of Goma and its environs. Some other persons died in a motor accident during evacuation from the town while others were burnt to death. Some prisoners of the Munzenze prison died while trying to escape.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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