Catholic Bishops in DR Congo Appeal for Support for Victims of Volcanic Eruption

Logo of the Diocese of Goma/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Catholic Bishops in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are appealing for support to reach out to thousands of people displaced from Goma, a city in the Eastern region of the country that experienced a volcanic eruption last month.

In their statement obtained by ACI Africa on Friday, June 4, members of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) also express condolences to families of about 30 people who reportedly lost their lives following the eruption of Mount Nyirangongo.

“The National Episcopal Conference of Congo shares the suffering of the thousands of men, women and children affected by the volcanic eruption in Goma. At the same time, it presents its condolences to the families affected,” the Catholic Bishops say in their collective statement signed by CENCO President, Archbishop Marcel Utembi Tapa.

Expressing their solidarity with the region covered by the Catholic Diocese of Goma, CENCO members make reference to the excerpt from Hebrews saying, “Let brotherly love remain. Do not forget hospitality, because thanks to it, some people, without knowing it, have welcomed angels.”

They further congratulate Caritas Congo Asbl and Caritas Goma and Bukavu for mobilizing a network of partners and for being engaged in the field in the distribution of food and nonfood items to the affected people who are housed in neighboring Sake.


The Catholic Bishops go on to appeal for material donations for the displaced people, saying, “CENCO invites the Catholic faithful and people of good will in DR Congo to mobilize spiritually and materially to help our brothers and sisters in need.”

Special donations have been organized in various Dioceses across the country to help the victims of the eruption, CENCO members says in their statement.

Those who cannot participate in the special collection that will be organized in the Dioceses have been invited to send their contributions in electronic money to Airtel Money: +243 977 963 048 and Orange Money: +243 899 536 357.

“All contributions will be managed in full transparency by Caritas Congo Asbl and supervised by the CENCO General Secretariat, which will ensure that the donor's intention is respected,” the Bishops say in their statement dated Thursday, June 3.

They add, “CENCO would like to thank all the Catholic faithful and people of good will for their continued solidarity with the people of Goma affected by this humanitarian crisis. Through the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Consoler of the afflicted, may the Lord assist us all.”

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CENCO members’ appeal comes days after Bishop Willy Ngumbi Ngengele of the Catholic Diocese of Goma requested for humanitarian assistance for the displaced amid reports of a growing humanitarian crisis in the Eastern part of the country.

“We call on the government, members of the international community and people of goodwill to support our people moving in all directions as a result of threats of another eruption,” Bishop Ngumbi told journalists last week.

Nelson Mantama, the officer in charge of communications at the Catholic Youth Centre of Goma Diocese told ACI Africa that people in the region were still in panic owing to earth tremors.

“Today, the situation is not at all disturbing, but we are noticing some concern and a little bit of alert, of panic following tremors that shook the environment. And as a result, the population seemed to be getting scared again,” Mr. Mantama told ACI Africa May 24.

The Communications official said that the people were, however, following the directives of the government and the OVG (Observatoire Volcanologique de Goma), the body that monitors volcanoes in the Central African nation.


He told ACI Africa that though there was no active eruption on the surface, active cracks could still be seen and that the cracks were sending panic among the people.

There have also been reports of mounting confusion in Goma where residents are unable to decide between fleeing and staying put, away from militants who are situated outside the city.

In an interview with Catholic Charity organization, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, Fr. Arsene Masumbuko, the Rector of St. John Paul II Seminary in Buhimba in Goma Diocese, said that people are now forced to decide between the danger they face with the ongoing tremors and possible assaults by armed groups.

“I ask for prayers for the population of Goma and for our Seminarians. We still don't know if we will have to evacuate the Seminary,” says Fr. Masumbuko in the report shared with ACI Africa May 27.

He adds, “The serious danger is that there could be an explosion in the lake, where there is gas, that would endanger everything in an area of ​​20 kilometers. That is why we are waiting to receive more information and to be able to make a decision.”

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He explains the dilemma in the city, saying, “Even if we evacuate, the next question is where to go and especially how to get there, because security outside of Goma is very fragile. There are armed groups that take advantage of this situation to attack and assault people.”

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.