the latest from goma
Some word from contacts and friends who are either in the D.R. Congo or who've heard from those who are. First, the personal:
- The Peacekeeper's husband is in Goma; he's been stuck at MONUC for the last two days.
- A team from Global Strategies for HIV/AIDS Prevention was in a village to do prevention of mother-to-infant HIV transmission work; they are stuck there. They'd appreciate thoughts and prayers for their safety.
And the official:
- MONUC attempted to evacuate 50 foreign aid workers from Rutshuru, a large town north of Goma. They were unable to carry out the evacuation. Congolese forces expect to abandon the city to the CNDP rebels.
- CNDP says they have taken Rutshuru, but that has yet to be confirmed by MONUC, which still has forces in the city.
- Of course, no one attempted to evacuate the local population. They're left to fend for themselves when things like this happen. And Rutshuru is a major center for refugees and internally displaced persons. One aid worker described the situation in Rutshuru as "total panic."
- Nkunda's troops opened another front at Rubare on the north side of Virunga Park today.
- Aid workers cannot reach most of the displaced persons. In addition, since MONUC is being blamed for the insecurity in Goma, I'd imagine that it's pretty dangerous for foreigners to even leave their homes or offices.
- Riot police have been deployed in Goma to combat the insecurity. The city was very quiet today. Schools were closed, and the markets were empty. Plane tickets to Kisangani and Kinshasa are selling fast.
- UNHCR expects 32,000 people at the Kibati camp. It will be a chaotic, horrible night there.
Photo: AP via BBC