After two weeks of relative calm in the M23-FARDC (Congolese army) conflict, fighting raged again yesterday around Rumangabo and Kibumba, the stage for the United Nation’s defences for Goma.
Heavy artillery and gunfire has caused thousands to flee their homes. Reports from Katale, which is currently inaccessible from Goma, talk of many huddled on the airstrip outside the UN base there. In Kibati, on the outskirts of the provincial capital, an aid agency say nearly 8000 have arrived.
Last night, they huddled outside under a heavy storm, and their numbers had swelled this afternoon, with forty people filling one, small classroom. The desks are stacked up outside as some of the rooms are used to register the displaced.
Land-cruisers emblazoned with aid agency logos mill about, but people here say that they have little to eat, and many will spend a cold night outdoors.
Fighting continued to rage today around Rumangabo, where the headquarters of the Virunga National Park is situated. Rebels had withdrawn from Rutshuru after they took it two weeks ago, but today they were fighting again for the town. As I post this, Jason Stearns says he has confirmed reports that neighbouring Kiwanja has fallen to M23 rebels. Incidentally, the UN has a large base there, manned by Indian peacekeepers.