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Goma: supplies loaded from UNHCR stockpiles

Briefing notes

Goma: supplies loaded from UNHCR stockpiles

22 January 2002

UNHCR in the western Tanzania town of Ngara began today (Tuesday) loading trucks with relief supplies for up to 15,000 Congolese families (75,000 people) displaced by last week's volcanic eruption in Goma. The supplies from UNHCR's regional stockpiles are destined for the western Rwanda town of Gisenyi, where there are still tens of thousands of Congolese who fled the volcano last week. Some of the supplies being brought in from Tanzania will also likely be used in Goma. A UN team, including UNHCR staff from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) capital, Kinshasa, is meeting this morning with local authorities in Goma to determine how aid can be brought in and distributed in the town ravaged by lava flows. People are continuing to walk across the border from Gisenyi to regain their homes or to assess what is left of their homes. Some are crossing the cooling lava flows. UNHCR staff travelling from Kigali to Gisenyi report seeing several vans with Congolese number plates bringing families back to Goma.

Yesterday, UNHCR in Rwanda distributed blankets, jerry cans, plastic sheeting and kitchen sets to some 5,000 people at a UNHCR transit centre in Nkamira, some 25 km from Gisenyi. Until now, UNHCR had used the centre, with a capacity for 400, as a reception facility for Rwandan returnees from neighbouring DRC. At the request of the Rwandan government, UNHCR could establish up to 10,000 shelters if needed.

Meanwhile, UNHCR staff who reached the refugee agency's office in Goma by boat yesterday reported that our building was intact but computers, printers and photocopiers had been stolen. On Thursday, UNHCR evacuated its 17 staff to the town of Gisenyi before transporting them and their families to the DRC town of Bukavu. The evacuated staff are expected to join the UN effort in Bukavu to assist some 12,000 displaced Congolese who are said to be in and around that town.