Lava stream hits Goma, eastern DRC - possibly 400,000 people displaced
MSF staff were safely evacuated but the office and all supplies were destroyed in the lava flow.
18 January 2002
There are unconfirmed estimates that up to 400.000 people have fled Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), after Mount Nyiragongo erupted yesterday. The resulting lava stream passed the airport, went right through the centre of town and finally flowed into Lake Kivu, on which Goma is situated. The MSF team , who were based in Goma, also fled to Gisenyi, the border town in Rwanda, and reached there unharmed at 19.30 local time. The MSF house and emergency stocks were destroyed by the lava flow. First hand accounts stated that the lava stream started off moving slowly so many people had time to get away. It is unclear how many casualties there have been. Tens of thousands of people have flocked into Gisenye in Rwanda while others appear to have run to Sake, on the Western side of Goma. After the people fled, some looting of houses and offices occurred. MSF has sent personnel, medical supplies and water sanitation material from Kigali to reinforce the team already present in Gisenyi. Extra personnel have also been sent to Kitshanga, near Sake to address the displaced needs. Both teams will monitor the situation concerning further displacement of people and potential outbreaks of disease in order to be ready to provide extra support if needed. The current displacement only adds to the gross humanitarian problems people in the eastern DRC have been facing for years. Hunger, displacement, lack of health care and epidemic diseases are recurring themes in ths war-torn province. In addition, insecurity often makes it impossible for aid organisations to reach people in need. MSF has programmes in Eastern DRC, Bukavu, Shabunda Goma, Kisangani, Kitshanga. MSF also has programmes in other parts of DRC. In Rwanda, MSF works in Kigali.