‘One of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world’: World Vision statement in response to Goma evacuations

Statement by World Vision’s Eastern Zone Director for DR Congo, David Munkley

“Hundreds of thousands of people are evacuating the city of Goma in fear due to the ongoing threat of the nearby Mount Nyiragongo volcano. A worsening series of tremors has terrified people over the last few days. The governor of the province has now ordered the evacuation of people from the city, warning that lava had been detected under Goma and nearby Lake Kivu. The fear is that tremors could lead to a fresh eruption of the volcano – that last erupted on Saturday night - or even set off a chain reaction leading to the release of large amounts of poisonous methane gas from the lake alongside the city. If that happens the gas could prove deadly.

People have been fleeing in four directions, including into Rwanda, if they can. The situation has caused a large-scale panic, with roads clogged with traffic and people fleeing on foot. Many thousands of people will be sleeping outdoors and will have almost no access to water, food and toilets. World Vision has had to evacuate our Goma-based staff to ensure they and their families are safe.

The humanitarian community is now mobilising to meet this massive sudden need. World Vision in Rwanda has been purchasing aid and will start our response operations in Rubavu on the Rwanda side of the border where thousands have gathered. World Vision’s aid will be focused on meeting the most urgent needs of the displaced with a special focus on children. We'll also be coordinating closely with other agencies to make sure that aid provided is well planned.

I can’t think of another emergency in recent years where a city has been forced to evacuate en masse in a day. We know this is going to be an extremely challenging few days and hope that the volcano does not erupt again - and cause lava flows to pour through the city as they did in 2002. The potential destructive power of this volcano makes it one of the most dangerous in the world.”

For photos, footage and interviews contact: Elissa Doherty on 0409 994 433 or elissa.doherty@worldvision.com.au.

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