Flash floods and landslides hit eastern DR Congo

MSF has sent an emergency team to the worst-affected areas

Democratic Republic of Congo 2023 © MSF

Flash floods and landslides in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on May 4 and 5 have killed almost 400 people and wounded at least 150. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has sent an emergency team to South Kivu’s Kalehe territory—the worst-affected area.

Ulrich Crepin Namfeibona, emergency coordinator for MSF in South Kivu province gave the following statement:

The situation across various locations of the territory of Kalehe is catastrophic following the devastating floods and landslides that hit this area of South Kivu province. The catastrophe hit overnight, and, as Thursday was market day, the population in Bushushu was twice as large as usual.

Hundreds of people have died, many others remain missing, and about 150 wounded people have already been admitted to different health structures. Some villages have been completely [swept away by] the floods, including houses, fields, and livestock.

On Saturday, May 6, [MSF] arrived with an emergency team to the two most heavily affected areas—the villages of Bushushu and Nyamukubi—to support the local authorities and the Ministry of Health. In Nyamukubi, around half of the village has been destroyed. Due to the floods, the main road between Nyamukubi and Kalehe is not [usable] anymore, which is hampering the arrival of humanitarian aid.

The most pressing need for MSF was to organize the evacuation of severely injured people to ensure they get timely and appropriate medical care. As of today, our team managed to refer 36 patients by boat to hospitals in Kalehe and Bukavu. We have also been donating body bags, medicines, and medical supplies to several health structures [that are] treating [injured] patients. We will continue to monitor the situation in the [coming] days to evaluate the medical and humanitarian needs.

Poor living and sanitation conditions in the aftermath of floods create high risk of disease—such as skin infections and diarrheal diseases—especially in this area close to Lake Kivu where cholera is endemic.

Shelter, food, and other basic [supplies] are urgently needed for these communities who have lost everything. We are also seeing children who have lost their parents and need protection.