After Mount Nyiragongo, an active volcano overlooking Congo’s Goma town erupted, the Indian Army on Saturday rushed to assist in the evacuation of locals and other UN personnel in the affected region.
Notably, the Indian Army has a significant presence in the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of MONUSCO, a UN peacekeeping mission headquartered in the eastern town of Goma and bordering Rwanda.
The Army in an official statement said that the Indian Brigade headquarters is located adjacent to the Goma airfield. It said that most of the lava from the volcanic eruption has flowed towards Rwanda and only a small stream is trickling towards Goma.
“As a precautionary measure, various country contingents were told to be on the alert by the UN’s internal security system who calculated that evacuation will not be required. However, a majority of the country contingents including aviation contingents evacuated immediately,” Army said.
“The Indian Brigade headquarters have held their ground and in a calculated and calm manner, thinned out 70 percent of the strength of the camp and sent them to the Himbi Company Operating Base (COB) for safety. A minimum strength continued to hold onto the Camp ensuring no threat to UN and National assets as also providing security to empty Aviation base and Aviation fuel stored there,” it added.
Army said that an Observation Point has been established in the area that is giving real-time updates of the lava flow to the Brigade headquarters, enabling them to pass the correct information to the UN and hence creating a semblance of orderliness in the civilian evacuation.
“Currently, it is ascertained that the lava flow has considerably slowed down. Lava flow at this stage is unlikely to reach Goma town unless there is a fresh eruption through fissures. Intermittent earthquakes of very low intensity are being currently experienced,” it said.
“Actions by the Indian contingent in the face of imminent danger have facilitated the smooth evacuation and protection of civilians and other UN personnel in Goma,” the statement added.