Rome, 31 January 2002 - To assist
refugees and farmers in the city of Goma in eastern
Congo, hit by a volcanic eruption on 17 January, the UN
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today appealed,
in the framework of a UN integrated effort, for US$1.25
million immediate aid. International emergency
assistance to farmers and their families could help to
avoid serious repercussions on food security and agriculture in
the Goma area, FAO said.
Nyiragongo volcano erupted, thousands of people lost
most of their homes, fields and harvests in Goma and in
a number of destroyed villages north of the
city," FAO said.
"Around the volcano are some of the most
fertile agricultural areas in the region," said FAO
Emergency Coordinator Alexis Bonte. "The repercussions
of the disaster on agricultural production in the Goma area
could be very critical in the coming season."
The volcano erupted just as 80 percent of
the farmers had finished their bean and maize harvest; the
vegetable harvest still remains to be collected, according to
The FAO Emergency Coordination unit
in Goma warned that agricultural production is expected to
decrease and food prices could rise considerably in the wake of
the disaster. FAO said that farmers urgently need help to
resettle and rebuild their houses so that they can resume
In close cooperation with
non-governmental organisations, FAO is preparing to help farmers
rebuild their lives by providing construction materials, seeds
of fast growing vegetable and agricultural tools to around 6 000
affected farmers in Goma and nearby villages. With this help,
amounting to more than US$ one million, some of the worst
affected families will be able to supply themselves in the next
three weeks with basic food.
Most of the
around 300 000 refugees that fled the Goma area after the
disaster have since returned, according to the United Nations.
However, it is estimated that around 30 000 people, who fled to
the area southwest of Goma (Sake, Bukavu), have not yet
returned. "Most displaced families want to return, but
they have seen their houses destroyed by the lava," FAO
said. "It is expected that they will stay with their
host families for at least six months."
Weakened by the long lasting Congo crisis, the host
families have difficulty supporting the displaced persons, FAO
warned. The UN agency is therefore requesting US$250 000 to
provide host communities immediately with seeds and tools.