Hundreds of children are feared missing or separated from their families after the riots broke out in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Sunday that the children were missing in the chaos when residents fled the nearby town of Goma. More than 1,150 children have been separated from their families and more than 1,170 children are feared missing, the agency said.
Rwanda’s Ministry of Emergency Management said on Sunday that about 1,000,000 people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) had fled to Rwanda to seek refuge after a volcanic eruption.
“This morning, after the lava flowed from the Niragongo volcano, many of the coleslaws that were evacuated in Ruvavu are returning home. Rwanda found about 100,000 people last night,” the ministry said on its official Twitter account on Sunday.
A spokesman for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said thousands of Goma residents had spent the night outside after Saturday’s blast.
“There has been no major terror movement, but people are really worried,” said Tom Pierre-Costa, spokesman for the Council for West and Central Africa.
The evacuees headed for Rwanda for the first time, Pere-Costa told CNN. The border was closed, so they returned to Goma and headed for the northern part of the city. Pere-Costa Posted on Twitter Video of people leaving the city
“Everywhere you look in the city you see people walking with their belongings, their kids and the goats and the people who can catch them. There are so many people sitting on the street that they can go back anytime soon,” said Costa. .
But hundreds of damaged homes and dangerous shortages of water and electricity could be found, UNICEF said.
The Children’s Agency is sending a team to work to stop the spread of cholera. It is also setting up two transit centers for unaccompanied and separate children in collaboration with local college authorities.
The NRC, a leading humanitarian organization, says the DRC is going through “the world’s most neglected displacement crisis” since 2 million people in 2000 were forced to flee their homes.
“The deadly combination of spiraling violence, record hunger levels and complete neglect has generated mega-snags that guarantee mega-responses,” NRC Secretary-General John Egeland said in a statement. “But instead, the millions of families on the edge of the abyss seem to have been forgotten by the outside world and no support has been cut off from the lifeline,” he added.
The NRC says one-third of the country’s population – 20 million people – including more than a million children – do not have enough food to feed themselves.