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CWS Sends Medicine, Plans Further Aid
Following Volcano Catastrophe in Congo

To help, direct funds to:
Church World Service, 28606 Phillips St., Elkhart, IN 46514. More information/credit card donations to 1-800-297-1516 or online at

January 25, 2002, NEW YORK CITY – Church World Service is helping to meet emergency needs among the some 500,000 people affected by the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano near Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The eruption began January 17, and an estimated two-thirds of Goma’s half million residents fled the six-foot-high rivers of lava, which destroyed three-fourths of that city and devastated at least 14 nearby villages.  At least 95 people have died.  The lava also spilled into nearby Lake Kivu, poisoning the water and putting people who drink it or bathe in it at risk for cholera and dysentery. 

People sought refuge just across the border in Gisenyi, Rwanda, or in the forest.  But then, as the eruptions subsided, many returned to Goma, reluctant to remain in temporary camps in Rwanda.

The needs are numerous whether residents remain displaced or have subsequently returned home.  Church World Service and partners around the world, including churches in Congo and Rwanda, are working to provide water and sanitation, food, blankets, kitchen utensils, firewood, shelter materials and clothes for 60,000 people, with special attention to the most vulnerable, especially children and the elderly.

Long-time CWS partner Interchurch Medical Assistance (IMA) is sending medicine from Kinshasa, Congo’s capital city, and from the United States to Goma.  Church World Service has committed $10,000 toward shipping costs.   In 2001, CWS helped IMA rehabilitate more than 50 medical clinics in Congo, including one near Goma, which is planning to help in the current emergency.

Church World Service is the global humanitarian response ministry of the National Council of Churches and its 36 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican member communions.  Volcano response is being coordinated through Action by Churches Together (ACT) International, a worldwide network of churches and related agencies of which CWS is a member.


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