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UNICEF declares 170 children missing in DRC volcanic eruption

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United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) yesterday said that about 170 children are missing from their families in Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) District of Goma, after the Mount Nyiragongo volcanic eruption.

UNICEF gave the number in a statement that also said that more than 150 children had been separated from their families apart from those missing.

According to the statement, up to five people may have died during the evacuation, and some houses have reportedly been lost in the north of Goma with no fewer than 5,000 people crossing the border into Rwanda from Goma as the slow-moving lava spewed, and at least 25,000 others were displaced in Sake, 25 kilometers northwest of Goma, the agency said.

A UNICEF team has been deployed in the affected areas of Sake, Buhene, Kibati, and Kibumba to provide first-line response, which includes installing chlorination water points in and around Sake to limit the spread of cholera.

The agency is strengthening surveillance for the deadly water-borne disease, especially in Goma itself, following residents’ return.

Two transit centres are being established for unaccompanied and separated children, working closely with Congolese authorities.

UNICEF says it will work with partners to refer cases of gender-based violence or abuse to provide adequate medical and psychosocial support. 

It will be recalled that the sky turned red and lava spewed from the volcano on Saturday, causing thousands to flee the city of two million people, located just to the south.

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