More than 100 days after the deadly eruption of the DR Congo’s Nyiragongo volcano, survivors are still struggling to pick up their broken pieces as the upcoming rainy season adds to a list of troubles that they are already facing.
A one-hour car drive away from Goma, at the foot of the restless volcano in northeastern DR Congo, makeshift tents are the only shelter for the families, who lost everything in the deadly catastrophe in late May. Furaha Beatrice, one of the survivors forced to leave her home in Goma, barely managing to put food on the table, is now worried whether the roof over her head will survive the rainy season from September till May in the coming year. “When it rains, our little huts are flooded. When there is rain, we no longer sleep, because even our mattresses, our blankets, our mats, are emerged in the rainwater,” said Beatrice, lamenting “an indescribable ordeal” during the rainy season for her fellow survivors who make it on their own. “I lost my pots and casseroles in the water that flooded everywhere,” said Beatrice, whose only plan is to move into a nearby tent that still seems impossible to resist the lashes of wind and rain. “When the rain falls, we could do nothing but to wait till it stops,” said Aline Furaha, one of Beatrice’s neighbors who is praying on a daily basis to return to her house that was engulfed by steaming lava.
According to a recent report by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 7,891 persons are still displaced in the affected region, and thousands of displaced individuals are still staying in spontaneous sites in poor conditions.Many displaced persons who live in host families live in overcrowded spaces with poor sanitary infrastructure, exposing themselves to water-borne diseases such as cholera, said UNCHR.Tens of thousands of people left the city of Goma and the surrounding regions when Mount Nyiragongo erupted on May 22, 2021, spewing lava near the city while destroying houses and killing at least 32 people.
Right after the volcano burst into activity, the country’s eastern city of Goma, with a population of nearly two million, saw the night sky illuminated with orange flames. Electricity supply across much of the city was cut off.The displaced residents were forced to move again one week later when authorities raised the alarm out of fear of a fresh volcanic eruption. Goma is home to two active volcanoes — Nyamulagira and Nyiragongo. Nyiragongo’s last major eruption in 2002 killed about 250 people and displaced thousands.