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23/05/2021 | Emergency

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Mount Nyiragongo volcanic eruption

On Saturday 22 May 2021 Mount Nyiragongo volcano, located 10km from Goma in North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, suddenly erupted. This sudden volcanic eruption created panic within the population, leading to mass movement towards the south-west (from Goma to Sake town) and towards Rwanda (Rubavu). 30,000 people fled within the night, sheltering in evacuation centres, with host families or on the streets. It was reported that 288,404 people in Nyiragongo Territory were affected and 32 people lost their lives.

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03/06/2021 | Press release

DRC volcano eruption: Red Cross steps up its response amid fears of a “multi-hazard” emergency

Kinshasa/Nairobi/Geneva, 03 June 2021—The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has warned that a multi-hazard emergency looms large following the eruption of Mountain Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The IFRC has launched an emergency appeal of 11.6 million Swiss francs to assist 80,000 displaced people in DRC and Rwanda and is calling for urgent support from donors and partners to help scale up operations. Mohammed Omer Mukhier, IFRC’s Regional Director for Africa, said: “The danger is not over, and more work lies ahead. While volcanic activity seems to have subsided, the recent eruption has left a trail of immense humanitarian needs. Hundreds have lost their homes and they urgently need shelter, food, clean water and healthcare. Families have also been separated amid the chaos that followed the eruption.” Based on the requests for family reunification received by the Red Cross, at least 540 children were separated from their families after the eruption. Out of those 540 requests, Red Cross teams have reunited 64 missing children with their families. Many more are still missing. Over 1,722 houses and other structures have been destroyed, leaving about 30,000 people homeless and displaced. Some were displaced internally within DRC—others moved to Rwanda, in Rubavu. Karamaga Apollinaire, the Secretary General of the Rwanda Red Cross said: “In the town of Rubavu, to which many Congolese refugees fled, we have had to manage the influx and the destruction of property caused by the continuous earthquakes. Schools, homes, markets and water lines have been destroyed, and residents are being evacuated to safer grounds. Rwanda Red Cross volunteers have been on the ground since the eruption, providing humanitarian assistance to both the refugees and local communities.” The eruption of Mountain Nyiragongo comes at the worst possible time in DRC. With thousands of displaced people, amid an ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, in one of the most dangerous environments in the world—the Red Cross is worried about the “multiplier effect” that this new emergency adds to an already complex situation. “The population of North Kivu has been grappling with socio-economic challenges for decades and is currently one of the most food insecure locations in Africa. With every disaster, their means of coping are weakened further,” said Mukhier. As a response, the Red Cross will support communities affected by multiple hazards and compounding humanitarian vulnerabilities caused by the eruption of Mountain Nyiragongo for a period of 12 months. Through the operation, Red Cross teams will provide services such as shelter; distribution of household items; water, sanitation and hygiene; healthcare; protection and psychosocial support, among others. Grégoire Mateso Mbuta Way, President of the DRC Red Cross, said: “Although this is a worrying humanitarian situation, we are reassured by the fact that our Red Cross teams are experienced in responding to emergencies caused by volcanic activity. Our teams played a key role in supporting people affected by the last major eruption of Mountain Nyiragongo in 2002. The IFRC and the Red Cross in DRC understand the local context very well and have worked together for years in eastern DRC, including during the recent response to Ebola.” Immediately after the eruption of Mountain Nyiragongo, the IFRC released 359,213 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to help the DRC Red Cross to provide assistance to 12,500 people from local communities evacuated from areas close to the volcano. The Red Cross is urgently calling for support to the emergency appeal to help reach more people with life-saving assistance.

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20/05/2020 | Press release

East Africa: Red Cross raises the alarm over a “triple menace” of floods, COVID-19 and locusts

Nairobi/Geneva, 20 May 2020—A series of mutually exacerbating disasters is unfolding in East Africa, on a scale rarely seen in decades, warned the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Ongoing heavy rain—which has killed nearly 300 and displaced about 500,000 people—has slowed down operations aimed at controlling the worst locust crisis in decades and increased the risk of the spread of COVID-19. Dr Simon Missiri, IFRC’s Regional Director for Africa said: “The ongoing flooding crisis is exacerbating other threats caused by COVID-19 and the invasion of locusts. Travel and movement restrictions meant to slow down the spread of COVID-19 are hampering efforts to combat swarms of locusts that are ravaging crops. Flooding is also a ‘threat amplifier’ with regards to the spread of COVID-19 as it makes it hard to implement preventive measures.” Flooding has left thousands of people homeless, many of them now seeking shelter in temporary accommodation centres where it is not easy or not possible at all to observe physical distancing. As a result, thousands are now at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 or waterborne diseases and need emergency food assistance. “We are facing an unusually complex humanitarian situation. We are worried that the number of people who are hungry and sick will increase in the coming weeks as flooding and COVID-19 continue to severely affect the coping capacity of many families in the region,” added Dr Missiri. “Harsh weather conditions are having a multiplier effect on an already difficult situation and this could potentially lead to worrying levels of food insecurity in the region.” Red Cross teams in the affected countries are rushing to respond to multi-faceted and overlapping crises. To respond to flooding, COVID-19 and locusts, the IFRC has provided over 7 million Swiss francs to Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies in East and Horn of Africa. Red Cross and Red Crescent teams in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda are helping communities mitigate the negative impacts of the triple disaster through community awareness and direct food and non-food support. In Kenya, the Red Cross is conducting assessments in 16 counties, using drones and satellite images. Red Cross teams are also airlifting household items to families that have been marooned by floods. “Flooding is a recurrent phenomenon in the region. To break this cycle, we call upon Governments and partners to invest more in preparedness and flood control methods,” said Dr MISSIRI.

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13/07/2019 | Article

Radio tackling rumours and misinformation in DRC’s deadliest Ebola outbreak

Radio is a powerful tool that helps inform, transform and unite us. In a health emergency, it can also become a lifeline. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo)’s worst Ebola outbreak in history, radio is being used to engage communities about the virus – a cornerstone in stopping its spread. This is the first time that Ebola has found its way into North Kivu, an area where there is complex and violent conflict, escalating the risk of its spread to other provinces and neighbouring countries. The outbreak is further complicated by significant community resistance, fed by fear, rumours and stigma, which can counter humanitarian efforts. Burundi Red Cross radio programme provides Ebola messages to communities close to the border with DRC That is why volunteers are ramping up efforts to collaborate with communities. Through radio, mobile cinemas and house-to-house visits, volunteers are building trust and collecting rumours, suspicions and concerns into a tracking system. More than 100,000 comments have been collected so far. “This system helps address fears and misinformation, and to encourage people to protect themselves and their families,” says Eva Erlach, Community Engagement Delegate with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Radio programmes have also given the opportunity for Ebola survivors to engage with communities, allowing them to share their experiences and help tackle the rumours and stigma related to the disease. In neighbouring Rwanda and Burundi where the risk of its spread remains high, Red Cross staff and volunteers are conducting radio sessions that help address some of community’s fear of Ebola. The programmes are not only disseminating information about the disease and its transmission but also providing an opportunity to voice concerns, discuss and ask questions. “Radio assists us in bringing communities together,” says Eva. “It uses diverse voices from the community, enabling them to define their own solutions.” Thanks to partners like ECHO and many others, Red Cross is able to continue this critical community engagement work to prevent and respond to Ebola in DR Congo and neighbouring countries.

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