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The statement
On 4th June 2021, DRC NDF (Forum Congolais de la Societe Civile du Bassin Du Nil (FCBN-DRCNDF)) released a statement profiling the eruption of Nyiragongo Volcano on May 22, 2021 and here is the statement.

On 4th June 2021, DRC NDF (Forum Congolais de la Societe Civile du Bassin Du Nil (FCBN-DRCNDF)) released a statement profiling the eruption of Nyiragongo Volcano on May 22, 2021 and here below is the statement. You can download the original statement at bottom of the page.

1.  Introduction

a) The Nile Basin and the volcano
The Congolese Nile Basin is located in the volcanic mountainous zone and the Albertine rift. All the mountain ranges from the south of the Basin near Goma to Mahagi via Kasenyi are likely to have fire inside; especially in the Province of North Kivu in the Virunga National Park mainly in territories of Rutshuru and Nyirangongo towards the Rwandan border. There are many active volcanoes including Nyiragongo (3,470 m altitude), Nyamulagira (3,058 m altitude), Visoke (3,711 m altitude), Karisimbi (4,507 m altitude), Mayi-ya-Moto (950 m altitude), Tshibinda (1460 m altitude) etc.,

Regarding NYIRAGONGO, it should be noted that this volcano is the most active and it’s classified as the most threatening of all African volcanoes. It had last erupted in 2002, when it destroyed the city of Goma, sweeping through the airport and all the buildings causing significant human and material damages. During the 2002 eruption, more than 250 victims and 100,000 homeless people were recorded.
Since then, the population had just rebuilt the city; the government had put substantial resources there as well as international institutions. Unsurprisingly, the volcano improvised the population on May 22, 2021 around 6:30 p.m, with yet another eruption.

b) The city of Goma
The city of Goma, 75.72 km2, located at an altitude of 1,500 m, is the provincial capital of North Kivu Province. It is a city of over 1 million inhabitants and is is a very important city for the East of the DRC because it is a junction between the DRC and certain countries of the East due to its international airport and its proximity to the countries of the East, in particular Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania.
The city is made up of 2 municipalities:
      Ø   Municipality of GOMA located in the south of the city with 7 quarters (Mikeno, Katindo, Les Volcans, Kyeshero, Himbi, Mapendo and Lac Vert), and
      Ø   Municipality of KARISIMBI located in the north of the city and at the end of the Nyiragongo Territory with 11 quarters (Virunga, Katoyi, Ndosho, Mabanga North, Mabanga South, Majengo, Kasika, Kahembe, Murara, Bujovu and Mugunga.

The city is between volcanoes and Lake Kivu which contains a large deposit of methane gas; that position constitutes a double danger of the zone.

 

2.  The evolution of the events.    

a.    The political context of the Province of North Kivu
North Kivu has been a martyred province of insecurity for more than two decades. Militias and armed groups sow death among the population on a daily, women are raped, children forcibly recruited into militias, people's property is stolen, the wealth of the soil and subsoil looted, and homes are set on fire every day. The number of internally displaced people is so high in the Province and the hope of the population is turned towards peace, security, and the development of their area.              
It is in addition to this mapping that another danger appears, that of the volcanic eruption. This volcanic eruption took place at a particular period in which the President of the Republic had just appointed military personnel as Governors of 2 provinces in the east of the DRC including General Constant NDIMO in North Kivu and General Johnny GASHAMA in Ituri; to fight against all foreign and national anti-government armed groups and establish lasting peace in that region. While the new governors were preparing to restore peace in the designated areas, the Nyiragongo volcano arose.

b.    Saturday May 22nd - Sunday May 23rd, 2021
According to KASEREKA MAHINDA Célestin, the scientific director of the Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma (OVG), the Nyiragongo volcano unexpectedly erupted on the evening of May 22nd at around 6.30 p.m.  Whereas there is an alert siren at the scene, this siren did not sound to alert the population - that's why megaphones were used in quarters to alert residents.   That night, residents took various directions to escape: some for Rwanda, others for Sake, a city located 27 km west of Goma.   During this eruption, the volcano took the direction of the Vurunga and Buhene quarters towards Rwanda and that of Kibati towards the west, thus closing the Goma-Rutshuru-Butembo road with lava.              
While he was staying in Europe where he participated in the financing summit of African economies after COVID 19, the President of the country Felix Antoine TSHISEKEDI shortened his stay to return to the country on May 23 in order to coordinate the evacuation operations of the people of Goma.   At the same time, all the airplanes that were at Goma airport had been evacuated to Bangoka airport in Kisangani.              
Twenty four hours later, that is to say, at 6.30 p.m on May 23rd, Mr KASEREKA MAHINDA Célestin presented the mid-course damage including the material damage (the factories, village fires and so on) and a huge number of lost human lives. As people fled at night, more than 400 children separated from their parents in the rush thus UNICEF undertaking the operation to search for the parents of these children.

c.     Monday May 24th
It was the arrival of the government delegation of 7 ministers to ascertain the situation. These included the Ministers for Defense, Health, Higher and University Education, Scientific Research, Agriculture, and National Solidarity. This delegation had come to do a preliminary check, to work with the provincial government and volcanologists to propose immediate evacuation measures, to provide the first assistance to the victims, to assess the priority needs and to return to Kinshasa to present to the council of the government.

d.     From Tuesday May 25th
It was on this day that things got worse because of the great earthquakes in the region. The effects of these earthquakes are enormous, large buildings collapsed leaving many people dead and others wounded.

e.     Consequences
At the time of this profiling, deaths are estimated at 34 according to the Minister of Health, Dr Jacques MBANDA including: 14 injured during the evacuation of the city, 4 prisoners, 2 asphyxiated, 7 consumed by lava, 3 killed by the smock from lava, 2 babies, and 2 other people died in the collapse of houses due to earthquakes.

Dr Chantal BIKILIMANI reported that for just one night of Saturday-Sunday 22nd-23rd May, they recorded at least 25 cases of premature births at Kyeshero General Hospital.

There are so many cracks on the soil of Goma and several houses have cracks due to earthquakes. More than 3,629 houses, more than 3 health structures and more than 12 primary and secondary schools were destroyed either by lava or by the earthquakes. Entire families made up of mainly women and children are sleeping under the stars without shelter. The airports of Goma and Kavumu (Bukavu) are closed due to earthquakes.      According to the President of the Civil Society of the territory of Nyiragongo, Mr MAMBO KAWAYA Jean Claude, several villages have been affected by lava from the volcanic eruption. These are Mujoga, Mugerwa, Kisheke, Rwanguba, Buhama, Kaguri, Bukanda, Kanyanza, Rutagara, Kiguri, Vubiro, Bushwaga, Bugarura, Buhima, Janga, Bushara, Kasenyi, Kabaya, Ngangi 1, Ngangi 2, Rukoko and Byungo.

According to the Minister for Industry who is also the former Governor of North Kivu, His Excellency PALUKU KAHONGYA Julien, since the start of the eruption on May 22nd until May 28th, there were 581 earthquakes. Electricity and water were cut for more than 500,000 people in the city.         
According to UNOCHA, there are more than 1,361 unaccompanied minors because of the eruption, of whom 858 have already been reunited with their parents. The statistics of the inhabitants who left Goma while fleeing the eruption stand at 416,000 inhabitants, of which at least 14,000 went to Rwanda.              
After analyzing data from the Observatoire Volacanologique de Goma on the dangerousness of the Nyiragongo volcano, Military Governor NDIMA Constant obliged residents of several quarters of the city to evacuate Goma on May 27th starting at 1 a.m.    Quarters concerned by his decision are the MAJENGO, MABENGA NORD, MABENGA SUD, BUJAVU, VIRUNGA, MURARA, MAPENDO, MIKENO, KAHEMBE and VOLCAN.
This population fled to 3 main directions:
     Ø  The South direction: Sake- Masisi- Kitsanga- Minova- Bukavu
     Ø  The East direction: Gisenyi- Changugu- Kigali
     Ø  The North direction: Rutshuru- Kanyabayonga- Kirumba Lubero- Butembo- Beni- Kisangani
             
From an agricultural point of view, it should be noted that the farmers were major victims of this eruption because all their fields of corn, beans and other vegetables around the volcano were consumed.              
From an environmental point of view, the flora and fauna of Virunga National Park were once again victims of this disaster in addition to poaching and deforestation which have become a daily game in many zones of the park.              
In his communication of May 27th, the Minister for Information and spokesperson for the Congolese government, Patrick MUYAYA reported that the city of Goma located at least 18 km from the Nyiragongo volcano now has 4 dangers, in particular: the explosion of pockets of methane gas from Lake Kivu under magma, Volcano Magma, earthquake and the toxicity of volcano ash in the atmosphere.

f.      Personal measures of protection in case of  earthquakes and volcanic eruption
The civil protection service recommended that when an earthquake occurs, the population should protect themselves.  For example, if you are in the house, you should stand under a resistant object such as a table, a bed etc., especially in the corner of a room. It is also necessary to protect the head and not to move around the house. If you are outside, you have to stay there, that is, do not rush into the house. If you are in the vehicle, you have to stop driving and follow the radio afterwards on what is recommended to be done by authorities.
             
Also, to avoid the loss of children during the eruption, each parent should put his phone number in his children's pockets so that in case the children get lost, the security or rescue service can call the parent directly.  Because of the toxicity of the ash from the volcano, it is necessary to wear protective masks, the multiplication of personal hygiene and that of food.

 

3. Conclusion and recommendations

The sudden eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano at 6.30 p.m on May 22nd, 2021 was a natural brutality that strongly shook the DRC in general and the inhabitants of Goma in particular. This fact has created a profound upheaval not only in the life of the population of the city but also in the functioning of the institutions of the country. There were many losses of human life and material losses; the city now has many irreparable effects.
In view of all these incalculable consequences, we call on the Congolese government to think deeply about disaster prevention in the country. We should think about the formation of a very strong structure of civil protection and the fight against disasters, endow this structure with capable people, substantial material and financial resources in order to allow it to face all kinds of threats that the country may have.

Also, we think that the government should:
      Ø   Relocate the provincial institutions from Goma to another city in North Kivu, for example to the city of Beni which is also a very strategic city in eastern DR Congo because it is an opening city to East Africa (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda), it has an airport that can be modernized to become a major international airport in eastern DRC. It is through this city of Beni that the Trans-African road and the railroad will pass, which will be able to link East Africa to Central and West Africa.
      Ø   Relocate the population located in the target areas of the volcanoes to the other part of the city of Goma.
      Ø   Establish Goma as a tourist town in the DRC with movable constructions adapted to the circumstances.
      Ø   Intervene to repair the damage caused by the volcano, for example, the reconstruction of schools, hospitals, homes of the population and help the victim population to reintegrate into life.

Done in Butembo,

By :   Paluku Tahawasima Elias, DRCNDF NTSE

Approved by:   KAKULE KATUNGU Therese, DRC NDF Chairperson
 
Date:    04/06/2021

 

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