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Volcanic Eruption: DR Congo Unveils Evacuation Plan As Another Disaster Looms

Another volcanic activity is imminent in DR Congo, which is still reeling from the effects of an eruption last week.

The Democratic Republic of Congo government is setting up emergency plans for the evacuation of the populations of Goma and its environs against a second volcanic eruption from the Nyiragongo volcanic mountain.

“According to scientists, Goma is still under the threat of persistent eruption and repeated seismic tremors,” Patrick Muyaya, the country’s Minister of Communication and Media said in Kinshasa on Wednesday, May 26, 2021.

“That obliges the government to activate as a preventive measure, a plan for the progressive evacuation of inhabitants as quickly as possible before the threat is totally avoided.”

Scientists of the Volcanic Observatory in Goma (VOG) have expressed worries over the persistent intensity of seismic tremors which have increased since the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo last Saturday.

“The fear now is to see an opening of fissures in Nyiragongo which could provoke another eruption of lava,” a VOG scientist revealed.

Meanwhile, the population continues to leave Goma and its environs and most of them are heading towards three directions such as Sake and Bukavu while others have been crossing the frontier to Rwanda, which has also been unfortunately hit by seismic tremors.

Meanwhile, the Governor of South Kivu, Theo Kasi Ngwabidje Kasi has put in place a special commission to manage the arrival of displaced persons coming from Goma. The commission held its first meeting on Wednesday in Nyamoma.

Among other things, the commission discussed the issue of setting up logistics at the Lake Kivu port and the extension of the docking hour of boats outside the time stipulated in the arrete regulating the transport sector which demands the respect of the tonnage of each boat. 

This is with a view to containing the massive arrival of all persons in Bukavu.

Other measures taken include the reinforcement of controls at entry points into South Kivu and the Bukavu town with strict respect to health and security measures against the spread of COVID-19.

A number of reception sites for displaced persons are currently being identified and action would be taken to make them more welcoming, the commission said. 

Since the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo last Saturday, the number of people moving from Goma to Bukavu has increased within the last three days. 

Over 2,000 people have been arriving Bukavu through Lake Kivu daily but since the eruption, the number has more than tripled to over 7,000 daily, according to figures supplied by the South Kivu provincial government.

Officially, Bukavu is not part of the Goma contingency plan but Governor Theo Kasi Ngwabidje Kasi has in anticipation of any eventualities sent a delegation of his ministry of humanitarian affairs to Goma to solicit the integration of South Kivu into the Goma evacuation plan in order to avoid any surprises.

Special security measures have also been taken to ensure that criminals and fighters of various armed groups being targeted by the state of siege in North Kivu do not find refuge in South Kivu.

Some seismic tremors have been reported in certain regions of South Kivu but to date, no major destruction has been signalled.

Several agents of many humanitarian organizations have however been arriving in Bukavu including elements of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) with a view to taking care of any uncomfortable eventualities.

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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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