Four months since Nyiragongo eruption, victims plea for help - Balkan Times

Four months since Nyiragongo eruption, victims plea for help

IDPs decry dire living conditions including lack of food at makeshift camp months after volcanic eruption in eastern DRC.

Four months since Nyiragongo eruption, victims plea for help – Benedicte Chibalonza was working as a teacher until late May, when Mount Nyiragongo in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) erupted, sending torrents of lava down a hillside and people running for their lives.

“Our school was washed away by the lava,” said the widowed mother of 10. “Now, I have no job. It’s misery and the family eats once every two days.”

Chibalonza is one of the thousands of internally displaced persons (IDP) who continue to live in makeshift camps more than four months after Mount Nyiragongo came to life on May 22.

Congolese authorities built temporary shelters in Goma, Bujovu, Bujara, Kanyaruchinya and Kayembe following the eruption that killed more than 30 people and caused widespread destruction.

Chibalonza is one of the thousands of internally displaced persons (IDP) who continue to live in makeshift camps more than four months after Mount Nyiragongo came to life on May 22.

Congolese authorities built temporary shelters in Goma, Bujovu, Bujara, Kanyaruchinya and Kayembe following the eruption that killed more than 30 people and caused widespread destruction.

“Let the government come to our aid. We are going to die in this disaster camp,” Zababu Mudumbi, a 35-year-old mother of five in Kayembe camp, told Al Jazeera.

Raising awareness

The situation in the camps is dire, with aid groups worried about the outbreak of diseases such as malaria and diarrhoea.

“We are organising two interactive programmes to raise awareness of disease prevention and risk management in the disaster camps,” Eddy Yamwenziyo, humanitarian emergency coordinator for the CARITAS charity in Goma, told Al Jazeera.

Meanwhile, advocacy groups, such Eleza DRC, have also launched awareness-raising campaigns to pressure authorities to act.

“We are taking videos to help women and children affected by the disaster to show to donors as the situation deteriorates,” said Fidele Kitsa, deputy coordinator of Eleza DRC in Goma, told Al Jazeera.

Some of the displaced Al Jazeera spoke to accused those in charge of the camps of stealing the supplies.

“We have received donations. But they were all stolen by the people in charge of this camp,” cried Shukrani Chizungu, a disabled 70-year-old at camp.

Added Mudumbi, “Sometimes, we are helped, but the camp managers steal and we can go nights without food.”

But Katembo Syauswa, head of Kayembe camp, said they were doing the best they can.

“We are receiving insufficient food. We have difficulty distributing it because there are so many victims. It is true that some food was stolen. But we promise to punish the culprits,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chibalonza and her children are preparing for another tough night at their shelter in Kayembe built with tarpaulins and tree branches.

“I don’t have a mattress,” she said. “My family is suffering in this IDP camp.”

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(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect BalkanTimes editorial stance.)

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