The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) on Sunday made an emergency donation to help victims of a catastrophic volcanic eruption in Congo.
The agency said it was providing Congo with an initial SFr200,000 ($120,000) donation for food and water for refugees fleeing their homes in the Goma region since the eruption on Thursday of Mount Nyiragongo.
"It's a total emergency," said Peter Steffen of the SDC, adding that Switzerland would also be sending rescue workers to the Goma region on Monday.
According to SDC agents in the area, between 10,000 and 15,000 people are in the process of returning to their ruined homes in Goma after fleeing to neighbouring Rwanda. Many other thousands of refugees are awaiting the most basic commodities in camps set up over the border in Rwanda.
There are grave concerns that foreign aid will be slow to reach Goma because of lava having engulfed much of the runway at the local airport. The nearest other airport in Kigali, Rwanda, is likely to be overburdened with foreign aircraft bringing emergency supplies.
Other Swiss agencies are also in the process of unfreezing emergency funds for Congo, with Caritas, the Red Cross and the Swiss Protestant charity EPER pledging an initial SFr400,000.
swissinfo with agencies
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