Hundreds Missing Following Deadly Floods and Landslides in Congo

Afaf Fahchouch
Afaf Fahchouch
3 Min Read

Families and rescue teams are searching for unknown numbers of missing persons, in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, four days after heavy rainfall triggered floods and landslides that claimed at least 400 lives. During a weekly press briefing, Congolese government spokesman Patrick Muyaya confirmed the death toll provided by the administrator of Kalehe territory in South Kivu province but did not specify the number of missing individuals, which local authorities fear could be in the hundreds. According to the UN’s humanitarian affairs bureau, OCHA, approximately 3,000 families are still without shelter.

Despite the best efforts of emergency teams from the United Nations and national NGOs that have been brought in, the magnitude of the disaster means that many families and rescuers are working without proper equipment to carry out their work. In the village of Bushushu, for instance, a Red Cross worker bemoaned the lack of proper equipment to search. “The search continues because there is plenty of bodies under the devastation,” he said. “Every time we manage to demolish a house, we find bodies.”

The situation on the ground is heart-wrenching. Alpha Safari, who lost 12 relatives, buried five bodies, and is searching for seven others, stated: “I am looking for them, I hope to find the bodies to bury them with dignity.” In addition to the loss of loved ones, many people have been left homeless and need urgent assistance. OCHA has detailed “immediate needs” including “dignified and safe” burials as well as medical care, food aid, and shelter.

Deadly Floods and Landslides in Congo and Rwanda Highlight Climate Change Impacts

Amid this tragedy, experts have pointed out the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events due to climate change. Greenpeace Africa notes that such disasters show “the necessity for the authorities to work on a national development plan focusing strongly on the risk of flooding in certain areas of the country”. Unfortunately, Congo is one of the poorest countries in the world, with corruption and conflict continuing to plague the eastern region.

This disaster comes just two days after neighboring Rwanda was also hit by floods that claimed at least 131 lives and destroyed thousands of homes. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who was in Burundi at the time, said: “This is yet another illustration of accelerating climate change and its disastrous impact on countries that have done nothing to contribute to global warming.” As the world continues to grapple with the effects of climate change, the people of Congo and Rwanda are left to pick up the pieces and mourn their loved ones.

Afaf Al Fahchouch

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