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Mount Nyamulagira

Volume 454: debated on Tuesday 5 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effect of the eruption of Mount Nyamulagira in Congo on the inhabitants of (a) Goma and (b) North Kivu province; what aid the UK is making available through (i) unilateral and (ii) multilateral (A) organisations and (B) programmes to those areas; and what assessment he has made of the effect of fighting in the area on the delivery of aid. (107099)

The eruption of Mount Nyamulagira in North Kivu, DRC has been anticipated for some time. Fortunately for the population of this troubled region, this volcano is situated within the Virunga National Park, which is largely uninhabited. Lava flows are being monitored by the Goma Volcano Observatory, and while it is still possible that lava may reach the Sake-Goma road, the speed of the flows has reduced considerably. To date the impact on inhabitants of the area has been minimal, but the situation will continue to be assessed.

The volcano Nyiragongo, however, is only 18 km from Goma town and is also very active. DFID is providing support to the Goma Volcano Observatory to increase its technical capacity to monitor the status of these two volcanoes and to establish a risk management unit to carry out contingency planning and emergency response preparation. The Observatory is funded through the UN and works closely with local authorities in North Kivu and Rwanda, other UN agencies and NGOs. If it becomes necessary to evacuate people from the area, support will be provided through the rapid response mechanism (RRM)—a contingency fund established in DRC to ensure emergency assistance is provided as quickly as possible, supported by the UK and other partners.

The recent fighting in Sake (25 km west of Goma) and surrounding areas between combatants loyal to renegade army commander General Nkunda and MONUC/FARDC forces has caused considerable disruption in the area, with approximately 15,000 people displaced. The area is now quiet again, but people are delaying their return home, fearing looting. A joint UN/NGO assessment mission has reviewed the situation and made a first distribution of food and other essential items to those in need, using RRM resources. The humanitarian agencies on the ground will continue to monitor and respond to the needs of the population until they can safely return home.