DR Congo: Evacuations in Goma as officials warn of more earthquakes and eruptions

Volcano eruption in Goma

Tens of thousands of people are trying to flee the city of Goma, in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), following an evacuation order by authorities warning of a risk of further earthquakes and eruptions of the Mount Nyiragongo volcano. 

Doctors Without Border/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is working to ensure staff remain safe while ensuring the continuation of its medical operations. 

MSF is planning interventions to address the health care and clean water needs of people who will be displaced, and of communities hosting those uprooted by the disasters. The medical humanitarian organization is also working to address an increased risk of cholera in areas where the disease is endemic. In Sake, 25 kilometers (16 miles) west of Goma, MSF will support the local health clinic and cholera treatment center. MSF's priority remains the protection of its teams and responding to the immediate needs of tens of thousands of people on the move.

Magali Roudaut, MSF head of mission in Democratic Republic of Congo, provided this update:

“We have already seen the flow of people leaving Goma, either by car or on foot or by boat, 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 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 and 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 for the safety of patients hospitalized in overcrowded health structures. Toxic gases can also have serious medical consequences. 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.”