Thousands of Goma residents have now started returning home after fleeing North-Kivu’s main city last month after the nearby Nyiragongo volcano erupted, leaving dozens dead. FRANCE 24’s Nicolas Germain and Justin Kabumba report from the northeastern city of Sake, where many of the displaced have taken up refuge.
There’s a steady stream of people stepping onto the government-chartered buses to make their way back to their homes in Goma after 400,000 of the city’s residents were forced to flee for their lives last month as lava from the Nyiragongo volcano cut off roads and left at least 32 people dead, according to official figures. Authorities say there is no reason for people to fear returning to their homes, and an estimated 160,000 people have already done so.
“There’s no problem in Goma. The GVO (Goma Volcanic Observatory) has finished its investigation into the cracks and the lava flow. There is no direct danger for Goma,” said Joseph Makund, the provincial president of the civil protection service.
But the return is not as easy as it sounds. Lava damaged much of the city’s water and electricity networks, and returnees are faced with both food and water shortage. A few cases of cholera have been reported as well.
“We’ve suffered. To not live in your home is a sort of suffering in itself. We no longer have our small business to work. I’m returning to Goma, but I don’t really know where I will go or what I will eat,” said Alliance Maheshe, a displaced Goma resident.
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