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Update on ICRC activities in Goma following the volcano disaster

20-01-2002 News Release


 Copyright German Red Cross / International Federation of the Red Cross  


Nairobi, 20 January 2002 - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is working to address some of the most urgent humanitarian needs in the city of Goma in the eastern DRC, following the volcano disaster. Amid indications that many of Goma's inhabitants have begun returning to the city from neighbouring Rwanda, the ICRC is focusing its immediate attention on the need for safe drinking water and working medical structures.

Since Saturday evening, the ICRC has been supplying chlorine tablets and jerrycans to a local Congolese NGO, Amis Kivu, which use them to purify lake water before distributing it to the population. Meanwhile, ICRC engineers are working with the local water company, Regideso, to rehabilitate the main pumping station in Goma. The ICRC is ready to provide fuel and chlorine for the station which, it is hoped, will resume operating later today. The organisation has been working with the Regideso in Goma and other cities in the eastern DRC for a number of years, providing chemicals for water treatment and spare parts.


Since this morning ICRC delegates have been evaluating the state of medical facilities in Goma. An initial assistance of chlorine, jerrycans and fuel for the generator has been provided for the General Hospital which was left largely undamaged by the lava flows. Hospital staff have reported for work and the facility is in working order. An ICRC team inspecting an area east of Goma airport found that at least one health centre there was still functional.

Meanwhile, the ICRC office in Bukavu working with the local Congolese Red Cross has assisted about 250 families who arrived in th e city by boat after fleeing Goma. These families who do not have relatives or friends in Bukavu have been provided with shelter, access to latrines, blankets and cooking utensils.

ICRC operations have been complicated by the destruction of its warehouse in Goma, which contained goods worth an estimated one million Swiss Francs. However, the organisation has access to substantial logistical back-up facilities in Kigali and Nairobi.

On the Rwandan side of the border, the ICRC is working closely with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Rwandan Red Cross. A more detailed statement on activities there is expected later today or on Monday.