Democratic Republic of the Congo / Rwanda Earthquake

Report
from Action by Churches Together International
Published on 05 Feb 2008
Geneva, February 5, 2008

At least 42 people have died in Rwanda's Western Province (37) and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) city of Bukavu (5), following a powerful series of earthquakes registering 6.0 and 5.0 on the Richter scale. The quake hit the border area between the two countries on Sunday, February 3.

Action by Churches Together (ACT) International forum members in the eastern part of the DRC, reported that at least 250 people were severely injured in Bukavu, with the majority injuries having occurred when a church they were praying in collapsed. In Rwanda, 500 people were seriously injured in Nyamaseke, a city neighbouring Bukavu.

The forum, ACT Pool Oriental, are: the Ecumenical Office for Support to Development/Bureau Oecuménique d'Appui au Développement (BOAD), Christian Aid, Norwegian Church Aid, DanChurchAid, Eglise du Christ au Congo (ECC) in South Kivu, North Kivu, Province-Orientale and Maniema, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Congo (ELCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).

Based on the forum's preliminary assessment in the affected areas in the DRC, about 1,500 residential and public buildings including 15 schools were destroyed by the earthquake. Due to a fear of aftershocks, people whose houses developed cracks have been advised to stay out of their homes for the next few days.

Earthquakes are common in the Africa's western Great Rift Valley-a seismically active fault line straddling western Uganda, eastern DRC, Rwanda and neighbouring Tanzania.

The situation in DRC is beyond the local organisations' capacity to respond and representatives from the national government have pledged some assistance. In Kivu for instance, the national Members of Parliament are collecting relief funds. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is providing medical assistance to those injured, and families are sharing the little they have with those affected by the quake.

The ACT forum members plan to assist those left homeless and those who have been injured-in particular children, the elderly and pregnant and lactating women. The forum is also working on submitting a request for USD 50,000 from the ACT Rapid Response Fund (RRF) to assist those affected by the quake in Bukavu and its surrounding areas. The forum members plan to provide plastic sheets, clothing, blankets, mattresses and iron roofs with the rapid response funds and are considering submitting a proposal of response for an ACT appeal.

The members of the ACT forum will not be responding to the situation in Rwanda, as the affected areas are not within their operational zones. In addition, other international NGOs (INGOs) which are presently working in the affected areas have already started providing assistance. The ACT forum in the DRC is however in close contact with these organizations for information on assessments, with the view to assisting should there be gaps in the response.

ACT member Norwegian Church Aid has indicated that it will assist vulnerable groups with blankets and other emergency items, and will help with repairs of schools and houses and local hospitals if needed.

Any funding indication or pledge should be communicated to Jessie Kgoroeadira, ACT Finance Officer (jkg@act-intl.org).

Thank you for your attention.

For further information please contact:

ACT Director, John Nduna (phone +41 22 791 6033 or mobile phone + 41 79 433 0592) or

ACT Program Officer, Michael Hyden (phone +41 22 791 6040 or mobile phone +41 79 285 2916)

ACT Web Site address: www.act-intl.org/