Staff in Goma, DRC, apprehensive in days following eruption
22 January 2002
The dilemma of being on the ground when Mount Nyirangongo erupted has meant that both the aid workers in the field and the general population share the same lingering apprehension from the eruption. MSF staff workers, both expat and national, who were already on working in the Goma area, have a constant wariness about the possibilities of a ollowing eruption. "We also became refugees ourselves as we and our local staff lost personal belongings, our shelter and MSF stock," said Erna Van Goor, the MSF head of mission in Goma. "Ten to fifteen percent of our local staff have lost people (note: not dead but cannot be found), and have lost personal belongings and shelter.Ã? "The people on the ground, including our expatriate and local staff who had to flee from the eruption, are still afraid.Ã? Every time there is a tremor, there is a moment of fear until it passes.Ã? Despite the good fortune of having people on site immediately after the eruption, the loss of equipment already in place brought delays to MSF's ability to react. "Our teams have only been active since Sunday, because the destroyed stock had to be ordered and replenished.Ã? The first flight landed yesterday (January 21). Despite the high degree of international interest in the current natural disaster, the long-term situation in the DRC has been largely ignored. "The humanitarian crises has been ongoing since 1992, it is only now with thisÃ? disaster that the media are paying attention to this long-standing conflict (since 1992).Ã? "MSF will provide assistance to the populations whatever they decide to do; to stay in Goma or to stay in the displaced camps in Rwanda. The choice is the people's.