Mount Nyiragongo, one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes erupted on Saturday, turning the night sky burning red and sending lava flows towards the city of Goma in North Kivu, where we work with our partner Children’s Voice. Thousands of families were forced to flee for safety.
The eruption has left a trail of destruction half a mile wide. Over 500 houses have been buried by lava. 30 people have died and over 170 children are now feared missing.
Amongst the smoke, ash and chaos on Saturday evening, people began fleeing to the border with Rwanda. However, on Sunday morning there were already reports of people trying to return to Goma, despite local authorities advising against it. What are they returning to? What has happened to their home?
For years, children in the DRC have grown up around war and violence. 40% of children are out of school. In the last few years, the region was the epicentre of the world’s second-largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded. And in the last year, Covid-19 has cut families’ income by over half to just £17 a month. Recently, we’ve heard girls as young as 13 are turning to sex work just to afford food. They face the worst violence and abuse, but many feel it is their only way to earn money and survive the devastation the pandemic has caused.
Continuous crises are devastating lives and destroying children’s futures. But your support gives hope to families. Since 2015, your support has enabled over 1,000 marginalised children to access quality primary education. And through the last year, it’s provided emergency support for families struggling through Covid-19.
At this stage, we believe that the Kibati centre, the school we support in Northern Kivu, is still standing. However, the surrounding roads have been destroyed by lava. For many children this would have been the one place they felt safe, the volcano has taken that from them.
Saturday’s eruption has flattened 500 homes and left hundreds of children homeless
During an already very difficult time, the eruption has taken lives, made families homeless and destroyed essential infrastructure. Three health centres and a primary school were destroyed by flowing lava. But we won’t give up or lose hope. By working together with you and our local partner, Children’s Voice, we can once again give children the childhood and future they deserve.
The danger is not over. Mount Nyiragongo is still a threat. Seismic vibrations from the volcano are still being felt across the border in Rwanda. Officials are concerned that more eruptions could take place in the following days. When it last erupted in 2002, 245 people died with thousands left homeless.
Right now, all donations are DOUBLED by our generous partners through our Big Chance campaign. After this emergency, your doubled donation is more vital than ever. Continuous crises are devastating children’s lives in DRC. We urgently need your support. Together we can rebuild and give children the childhood and future they deserve.
Image credit: “Nyiragongo volcano” by Nina R, used under CC BY Chance for Childhood, “Goma & volcano Nyiragongo in background – North Kivu” by MONUSCO, used under CC BY Chance for Childhood/ Modified from original