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 Indian Brigade HQ is located adjacent to the Goma airfield.
Mount Nyaragongo, an active volcano overlooks Goma town erupted in and spewed lava, gases and sediments at around 1830 hours on 22 May 2021, resulting in panic within the civilian population due to unsubstantiated reports regarding the direction and potency of the lava flow.
Most of the lava, however, 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 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.
The Indian Brigade HQ has held their ground and in a calculated and calm manner, thinned out 70% 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.
An Observation Point is also established that is giving real time updates of the lava flow to the Brigade HQ, enabling them to pass the correct information to 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 fresh eruption through fissures. Intermittent earthquakes of very low intensity are being currently experienced.
Actions by the Indian contingent in the face of imminent danger has facilitated the smooth evacuation and protection of civilians and other UN personnel in Goma.