The Democratic Republic of Congo ambassador to South Africa Bene M’Poko says thousands of people have become destitute following the volcanic eruption near the eastern town of Goma.
Aid workers say basic items like food, water and shelter are being organised for thousands of people affected by the volcanic eruption.
At least 15 people are believed to have been killed when Mount Nyirangongo erupted on Saturday night. At least 7000 people are believed to have fled to neighbouring Rwanda.
Ambassador M’Poko has described the situation as devastating.
“It’s very, very bad because when the lava spews out, you cannot do anything. In the meantime, it takes a long time for the lava to become fertile and useful. For years to come those areas will not be habitable because the lava is hot. So you have to wait for many, many years before the area becomes habitable and becomes fertile.”
Haunted by memories of an eruption in 2002 that killed 250 people and left 120,000 homeless, residents fled on foot with their belongings, some towards the nearby border with Rwanda.
The eruption was caused when fractures opened in the volcano’s side, causing lava flows in various directions.