I propose to take Questions Nos. 39 and 63 together.
The Government and the Irish people have been shocked by the devastation wrought by the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo. That the DRC, a country wracked by a protracted war, and Goma, a city so familiar with hardship, should be the subject of such awesome destruction, added poignancy to the images of despair we all witnessed a fortnight ago. To date, it is estimated that approximately 150 people have lost their lives and 350,000 have been affected since lava began flowing from the volcano on January 17. Over 30,000 people are still in camps and thousands of homes have been destroyed.
The Government's response has been rapid and substantive. On January 21, the Government announced €800,000 in emergency aid to provide much needed humanitarian assistance to the victims of the volcano. This has now been increased to €1 million, recognising the sterling work being undertaken by the Irish agencies in the region, the evolving crisis and reflecting the Government's unflinching commitment to the world's poorest and most vulnerable people.
The €1 million package has been divided between Concern, Trócaire, WorldVision, GOAL and Christian Aid. These agencies have been operating in the Goma area and in Rwanda, to which many of the people displaced by the volcano have fled. The invaluable work of our NGO partners is ensuring that people are being provided with shelter, health care, basic utensils and food. This is in addition to the crucial work being undertaken by the United Nations and the Red Cross organisations in the region. It is also worth noting that ECHO, the European Commission humanitarian office, has made €3 million available for assistance to victims of the volcano.
The Government's €1 million aid package is in addition to €1.33 million in assistance directed at the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2001 and almost €4 million provided for humanitarian needs in the Great Lakes region last year alone. Since the mid-1990s, the Government has been striving to bolster conflict resolution and development in the region by investing heavily in aid and recovery programmes in the poorest parts of central Africa. This is a trend that is set to continue, as the Government's determination to assist the region remains resolute. As always, we shall continue to monitor the humanitarian situation and be ready to act with both focus and purpose when appropriate.