DRC: War Returns

A truck for Médecins Sans Frontières carrying medical supplies for the displaced in Kitchanga, eastern DRC, struggles up the region's muddy roads. MSF announced in a press release yesterday that Congo "violence has reached its highest level in years." Image by Michael Kavanagh. Congo, 2008.

I just came back from the Médecins Sans Frontières office; they were finishing a press release as I arrived saying that "violence has reached its highest level in years." Yesterday on my way back to Goma from Rutshuru, where the Congolese authorities were more paranoid than I've ever seen them, I saw dozens of jeeps full of soldiers speeding faster than anyone ever should up these dirt roads. About ten miles outside Goma there were tanks mobilizing to follow.

This morning we began getting text messages from aid workers and rebel groups about fighting all across North Kivu. There are already a hundred thousand newly displaced people. This wknd I visited a church and school where several hundred people were sleeping on the floors; they get kicked out once classes start or services begin. If it rains during school hours or church services, the people stand outside and just get wet. The rebel leader, Laurent Nkunda, declared a "total war of liberation" in a BBC interview two days ago. He's actually said even worse, but the main national radio station supported by UN money decided not to broadcast his interview for fear of inciting riots against Nkunda supporters. Large crowds of Congolese are still throwing stones at UN convoys as they patrol the roads.