MRDF responds to devastation in Congo as volcano erupts

The Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) is to send animmediate donation to help relief efforts in the region of theCongo devastated by a series of major volcanic eruptions.

Dozens are reported dead as the Nyiragongo Volcano in theDemocratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to erupt, forcinghundreds of thousands to flee Goma, a city of 500,000. Molten lavaas high as six feet high has wiped out villages on the side of thevolcano and has spread down into Goma and Lake Kivu, near theRwandan border. Tremors were felt as far away as Kigali in Rwandaon Saturday night and aftershocks continue to be felt. Fears havealso been expressed that the lava flow into Lake Kivu could poisonthe water.

Between 10,000-20,000 people have sought shelter in theMethodist, Episcopalian and Presbyterian churches in the Gisenyiarea in Rwanda. Action by Churches Together (ACT) member, theLutheran World Federation (LWF), however reports that there is notenough food and water to provide for such large numbers of people."This is going to be a human catastrophe," said a UN official inthe region, as part of international peacekeeping efforts along theRwandan border, saying the refugees needed shelter.

The Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) is to send animmediate donation through ACT which is coordinating a jointresponse. LWF reports that the most urgent needs of people at themoment are plastic sheeting for shelter and essential non-fooditems, such as blankets and kitchen utensils. However, water isalso a critical item, as supplies have been cut. It is also crucialto establish feeding centres and kitchens as soon as possiblebecause people have no way of preparing or cooking food.

In Gisenyi, Rwanda, staff of Bureau Oecumenique d'Appui auDevelopment (BOAD) are coordinating a crisis committee with otherlocal NGOs, whilst the Government of Rwanda has taken overallcharge of coordinating any intervention by the InternationalCommunity. National and international NGOs, including members ofthe ACT Network, have been meeting daily to coordinate informationand action. This group has in turn liaised closely with theGovernment of Rwanda and the UN's World Food Program isco-ordinating food distribution with the Rwandan Government.

Kevin Fray of MRDF said: "The people of Goma need our prayersand support. Anyone wishing to make a donation can send it to MRDF.However, we are also desperately in need of funds for the manyunreported emergencies that we try to support."

For donations to the Nyiragongo Volcano emergency, please markall correspondence 'DRC Volcano appeal'. All donations can be sentto MRDF at Methodist Church House, 25 Marylebone Road, London NW15JR.

For further information about the relief effortscontact KevinFray at MRDF. Tel: 020 7467 5142