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Tuesday, 22 January, 2002, 21:25 GMT
Aid arrives for volcano victims
Goma residents walk back among the lava rocks
Most of the residents have returned to Goma
United Nations aid workers have begun distributing the first food aid around the city of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after last week's volcanic eruption.

Thousands of people lined up to receive aid - many said they had not eaten for several days.

About 30% of the population were left homeless by the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo, and some 300,000 people are estimated to need help.

Relief agencies have appealed for $15m to cover between one and two weeks of emergency aid for the victims.

Click here to see the location of the volcano

Aid workers were forced to rethink their plans after most of Goma's residents began returning to what was left of their homes, leaving the refugee camps hastily constructed in neighbouring Rwanda almost deserted.

Help 'slow'

Strong earth tremors are still being felt, but experts say Mount Nyiragongo is now in remission and there is no immediate danger of further eruptions.



  • Lava pours from three fissures down the flanks of the volcano and engulfs 14 villages
  • Lava then reaches Goma, causing widespread devastation

    Detailed map of the eruption and aftermath

  • And specialists now believe there is no threat from poisonous gases in Lake Kivu, into which some of the molten lava has been flowing.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross said tests showed the water was now fit for human consumption.

    The ICRC said three of the city's pumping stations were working, but only 30% of the supply network was intact.

    Much of the commercial centre of the city is covered in lava, and the authorities have begun flattening a section of lava with a giant bulldozer to open a road into a part of the city that was cut off by the eruption.

    The International Rescue Committee assembled a water system in front of a church in Goma, while thousands queued to register for food aid.

    Local resident Mwendi Kambale said his family was sleeping outdoors and had run out of food on Sunday.

    "The food is arriving very slowly," he said. "I'm not happy because now I have no job, no home, no money and very few clothes."

    Re-evacuation plans

    The UN's food agency has begun distributing food in the town of Sake, about 30 kilometres west of Goma, and in Bukavu, where many families sought refuge from the volcanic eruption.

    World Food Program spokeswoman Laura Melo said food would be given out in Goma itself on Wednesday.

    Trucks loaded with blankets and plastic sheeting have already arrived in the city, where some 90,000 people are believed to have lost their homes.

    The UN has lined up two sites just outside Goma to provide temporary shelter for the homeless.

    Congolese officials and aid workers met on Tuesday to prepare plans for the eventual re-evacuation of Goma in the event of another major eruption.




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     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Hilary Andersson
    "Goma's residents are waiting for food"

    Talking PointTALKING POINT
    Congo volcano
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    See also:

    22 Jan 02 | Health
    Medical emergency in Goma
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