You know it's going to be a great day when it starts off with MONUC announcing (to a group of assembled humanitarian workers, mind you. Anyone can attend this meeting, so I consider this public information) that the Congolese government is set on attacking Nkunda's forces after they finish dealing with some insurgents here in South Kivu. And that diplomatic efforts are focused on keeping Rwanda out of the conflict (which everyone swears will only happen if the Congolese government troops align with the FDLR/Hutu rebels here, never mind that some of those rebels apparently attacked government forces yesterday - confused yet?). There are Rwandan troop movements near the border, but that's perfectly normal. So they say, until one official pointed out that it's normal for troops to move internally in any country, but that this is the Congo. MONUC is now calling the security situation in North Kivu "very volatile."
In other words, it's just a matter of time.
Somewhere in all this came the news that 7,000 women and girls were raped in the first six months of 2007. In South Kivu alone.
This afternoon I interviewed an administrator at a church-run counseling center for rape victims and others who've been traumatized by the war. Between July 5-25 (20 days!) he referred 40 rape victims to Panzi Hospital and other hospitals for treatment. Those are just the victims who were so severely physically hurt that they need special medical treatment. The youngest victims is 10. The oldest is 70.
I really love the Congo, but sometimes I wonder how it's ever going to get better. We are quite clearly in the middle of escalating violence, and it's about to get much, much worse. People I've interviewed estimate that 80-90% of the population of the Kivus have been traumatized by the last 15 years of war. Here in Bukavu, you know it's true - it's only been 3 years since rebels were running wild in the streets, raping hundreds of women and girls. Almost everyone you meet carries deep scars of tragedies personally experienced, or of atrocities witnessed.
No one can live like this forever. But what choice to the people of the eastern Congo have?