On the road to Afya Bora, some residents of Goma leave their neighborhoods and homes to go to Sake, searching for a possible volcanic eruption of Nyirangongo. They search areas exposed by lava flows and urgently need to be emptied. © Yves Ndjadi/MSF

Goma, DRC: MSF statement on volcanic eruption

By Magali Roudaut, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Head of Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Following order by the authorities to partially evacuate the city of Goma due to the risk of further eruptions and earthquakes, MSF is doing its best to ensure its staff is in safety while ensuring continuation of operations. MSF’s planning interventions to address the needs of host and displaced populations, including for health care and clean water amid the risk of increased cholera cases in endemic areas such as Sake, 25 kilometers (km) further west, where the support to health clinic and Cholera Treatment Centre will be reinforced. Our priority remains the protection of our teams and the response to the immediate needs of tens of thousands of people on the move.

“We have seen a steady flow of people leaving Goma, either by car or on foot towards Sake, 25 km west of Goma, Rutshuru and Minova, in South Kivu or by boat to Bukavu, carrying mattresses and other belongings. At Goma’s port, there are crowds of people desperately waiting to take a boat that crosses the lake between Goma and Bukavu, in the South Kivu. We are very concerned for our patients, our colleagues and their families and all those left stranded who are or will be in need of medical and humanitarian assistance in the coming hours and days. 

“We have also seen several houses, public buildings, including schools and health facilities, cracked by multiple strong earthquakes, but also fields and districts destroyed by lava and ash flows. We are very concerned by the safety of patients hospitalized in overcrowded health structures, which become fissured. Toxic gases can also have serious medical consequences on the inhabitants of Goma. Water and electricity supply systems have also been affected and roads cut off, leading to risks of disease such as cholera and severely reducing access to health care. Our thoughts go out to the people who are suffering the consequences of this disaster, including our colleagues who are living in an extremely difficult situation.