The volcano erupted without warning yesterday evening, sparking panic in local villages and among Goma’s two million population.
“We were admiring the beautiful red sky before we realized it was a volcanic eruption,” Concern’s Emergency Program Manager Alyssia Allen said, who was less than 20 km from the volcano at the time.
“Very quickly the roads were jammed with people carrying all their household belongings as they fled to higher ground or towards Rwanda to escape the lava.”
“People’s sense of panic was fueled by their memory of the widespread destruction and loss of life caused by the last major eruption in 2002,” she noted.
As initial assessments got underway in Goma and Rwanda to establish the level of damage done and the needs of those who have fled their homes, Ms. Allen confirmed that Concern’s teams were in place to respond.
“All our Goma team are safe after a very difficult night,” Concern’s Country Director in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Russell Gates, said. “Our thoughts are with the people of North Kivu and we are already working on how we can support people who lost their homes, in collaboration with the wider humanitarian community and the government,” he said.
Concern Worldwide has been present in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for over two decades, providing both emergency responses and managing development programs. The DRC faces several challenges, including high levels of poverty, continuous armed conflict in many parts of the country, disease outbreaks including the world’s second largest Ebola outbreak, and high levels of food insecurity. Nearly 13 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance due to one of the world’s most complex and protracted humanitarian crises.