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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Safety a concern in Congo

Concern remains high for the safety of the hundreds of thousands of Congolese making their way back to Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo following the Jan. 17 eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano. At least 45 people were killed. The lava flow divided Goma into two sections, one accessible by road and the other only by barge or by carefully walking across solidified lava.

The Lutheran World Federation, a member of Action by Churches Together, reports (at presstime) that conditions remain uncertain and that no official report has been released saying the volcano no longer poses a threat to the population.

Despite the ground's instability, people are returning to the city — causing problems for aid workers, who need to register people for relief distribution. Some 20,000 Congolese are still thought to be seeking shelter in Rwanda.

Some LWF relief supplies were lost when storage facilities were destroyed by lava, said officials who have been working in Goma to assist those fleeing war along the Rwandan and Congolese border. Goma also was the site of a massive refugee crisis after the 1994 Rwanda genocide. And in 1977 a fast-moving lava flow from the same volcano killed 2,000.

The ELCA gave an initial grant of $100,000 for relief. Lutheran World Relief, an ACT member, gave an initial grant of $25,000 to help provide water and sanitation, food, plastic sheeting, blankets and cooking utensils.


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