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DRC: Relief for Volcano Victims Should be Provided Directly to Goma

The Democratic Republic of Congo has issued an appeal for $10 million in international aid for victims of the recent Mt. Nyiragongo volcano explosion. The Congolese ambassador has urged that all humanitarian assistance be delivered directly to the stricken area of Goma.

Speaking to journalists, the Democratic Republic of Congo's representative to the United Nations criticized Rwanda. According to Ambassador Antoine Mindua, his countrymen were badly treated last week when they crossed the border into Rwanda seeking refuge from the lava flow. He said the volcano victims condemn the reception they got from Rwanda and for this reason they preferred to return home to face an active volcano that could erupt again.

Hundreds of thousands of people around Goma were displaced last week following the eruption of the volcano.

There are serious problems between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi have supported a rebellion launched against the DRC government in 1998.

Ambassador Mindua called for U.N. and other relief agencies to redirect their distribution of food and aid supplies from Rwanda to the affected area of Goma. There are small airports in the area that could be used to receive humanitarian assistance, he noted. The people were desperate to receive help, he said.

"My government is very thankful to the other countries and organizations, which have accepted to help us, but until now in the field we still need help," Ambassador Mindua went on to say. "We need assistance because the population, the people of Goma, do not feel for the moment the assistance which [is] being stated on the radio or on TV."

Ambassador Mindua said the Congolese government was providing $1 million towards emergency aid to Goma's victims, but it was not enough. He said people were homeless, lacking basic water and electricity, and fearful of diseases, like cholera and malaria.

On Tuesday, the U.N. aid agencies launched an emergency appeal for an initial $15 million for food, shelter and medicines to help more than 400,000 victims of the volcano eruption.