By Faith Nyasuguta
Five months after the eruption of Congo’s Mount Nyiragongo destroyed homes and crop fields, victims are still homeless. They had earlier found shelter in a school but were later evicted ahead of the start of a new term.
Currently, the families that add up to 160 are residing in makeshift tents in the backyard of Kisoko market in the Kasika district of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.
At the moment, Eastern Congo’s wet season has commenced and the available tents offer very little to no protection from the rain and waterborne diseases.
After the eruption, Goma city’s government vowed to find alternative housing for the displaced but the promise is yet to be fulfilled.
“We informed the mayor of the city through our chief of the district, but he instructed us to relocate these families immediately, and since then we have been wondering where to take them,” Donatien Bagabwa, the administrator of the Kasika district said.
The authorities have been accused of bungling their response to the disaster.
“To forbid someone who was living comfortably in his house to build his house and to leave him in tarpaulin houses, without humanitarian assistance is a serious violation of his rights and a notorious incompetence,” Jack Sinzahera, an activist said.
In May, Mount Nyiragongo, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, erupted without warning, sending hundreds of thousands scampering for safety.
During the eruption, the sky turned red, spewing out a river of lava that threatened the nearly 2 million residents of Goma.
Over 30 people died from lava burns or asphyxiation, and in accidents during the panicked exodus from the eruption which destroyed hundreds of homes.
About 400,000 out of the 600,000 Goma residents left the city after the one-day eruption of Nyiragongo, a strato-volcano nearly 3,500 metres (11,500 feet) tall.
It was later established that scientists working in the volcano’s observatory office had halted operations over a lack of funds. The volcano last erupted in 2002 killing about 200 people.