Food For The Hungry Responds To Volcanic Eruption In The Democratic Republic Of The Congo

Food for the Hungry
Friday, 18 January 2002

Food for the Hungry released $10,000 from its Rapid Response Fund to help people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) who were effected by the eruption of Mt. Nyirangongo, which started on January 17, 2002.

So far eruptions have left 45 people dead and forced up to 400,000 people to evacuate the city of Goma, on the north-eastern shore of Lake Kivu. While some of the people fleeing the lava flow remained in the DRC, hundreds of thousands fled across the border into the neighboring Rwandan city of Gisenyi.

"Their houses are gone. It's just solid rock," said Merry Fitzpatrick, Food for the Hungry's former Congo director. "There's no soil so they can't farm. There's no wood because the trees are burned. They won't be able to live on this land for another ten years. We're looking at a long-term problem here."

Due to the civil war that started in 1998, most people in the Congo were already struggling to survive. Many families had taken in family members whose homes had been destroyed by looting Congolese soldiers. "Most people will probably live with other family members, and that puts a lot of people who are already poor under enormous stress," Fitzpatrick said.

A primary concern is the large number of displaced persons on both sides of the DRC/Rwanda border. Food for the Hungry staff are preparing for a possible influx of displaced persons in Bukavu, where Food for the Hungry's DRC office is located.

While Food for the Hungry does not currently operate programs near Goma, it previously worked in the area and is familiar with the region. Food for the Hungry staff met Friday, January 18, 2002, with representatives from other relief organizations to determine how to aid the eruption victims.

Food for the Hungry was founded in 1971 and helps some of the world's most needy people in 30 countries through child development programs, agriculture and clean water projects, health and nutrition programs, education, microenterprise loans, and disaster relief. For more information, or to make a donation, call Food for the Hungry at 1-800-2-HUNGER or visit our Web site.

For more information, or to contact Food for the Hungry, see their website at: www.fh.org

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