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Volcano town struggles to recover

GOMA, Congo -- Relief workers have restored half the water supply to the volcano-stricken city of Goma, U.N. officials have said.

Food continues to be delivered to the hundreds of thousands of residents who returned to their homes from neighbouring Rwanda ahead of an all-clear.

The lava from Mount Nyiragongo, in the Congo, covered about 40 percent of the town.

Meanwhile United Nations' refugee camps in Rwanda are still struggling to reunite families separated in the desperate flight from Goma on January 17.

The U.N. expects food to be delivered to 55,000 households by the middle of next week, associate spokeswoman Marie Okabe told The Associated Press. Water distribution is expected to be fully back on line in 10 days. Until then U.N. peacekeepers and voluntary organisations are distributing water in areas where supplies have not yet been restored.

Local officials in Goma decided on Friday morning to reopen the airport to light aircraft while engineers continue to study the state of the runway.

Volcanologists agreed that the volcano was unlikely to explode again though they remain extremely concerned about the high degree of seismic activity. Those refugees who have remained in Rwanda are being put up in camps constructed after the 1994 genocide. At least 500 children remain separated from their families.

"We comfort the children one by one so that they tell us their story," said Rose Bubuya, who works at Nkamira camp with the aid organisation, Save the Children.

"We try to get hints where they come from and who their parents are, but it's difficult."

The U.N. children's fund is providing the children with shelter, food and vaccinations. "We are still in the process of identifying the missing children," UNICEF spokeswoman Madeleine Eisner said, adding that radio announcements and putting up posters in Goma with photos of the children will be the next step.

U.N. Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Ross Mountain said international support would be needed for a significant period of time to rebuild Goma and provide jobs.

At least half the inhabitants lost not only their homes but their livelihoods because most of the business district was destroyed.


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