Arriving back in Goma today after several months away from D.R.C., I've been following the reports of the changing hands of Lukweti, a small village deep in Masisi territory. I was there last July, visiting a mobile clinic that MSF ran once a week. At the time, it was back under the control of the government army (FARDC), after months of fighting between them and APCLS rebels who held the town.
Without being there, it's impossible to know. And being there, is not easy.
It takes hours to reach the nearby town of Nyabiondo from Goma—the best part of a day by car. And from Nyabiondo, the road degrades to nothing but a track. The only way to reach it is by foot or by motorcycle. (I opted for the latter, and the journey took several hours, sliding through deep, muddy ruts.)
One thing that is certain is that if there has been fighting there, much of the population will have fled to the surrounding forest, taking cover in the deep hills in which Lukweti is nestled. During the last conflict, cases of malaria shot up as people slept in the forest, without any protection. Food is scarce, and the sick get sicker.
By last July, people were returning to a normal life, but it will have been short-lived. Several people told me that they haven't known more than 12 months pass without being displaced due to conflict. This is proving to be no exception to the rule.