With rebels led by Laurent Nkunda calling a unilateral ceasefire this week, the situation in eastern DRC has calmed. To find out more about conditions in the region, VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua spoke to Rebecca Feeley, field researcher for the ENOUGH Project, who's currently in Goma.
"Goma is actually close to being back to normal. Yesterday (Thursday), it was kind of a ghost town after a rather difficult evening on Wednesday night, which is when the FARDC (government forces) retreated from Kibumba and then ran into Goma wreaking havoc. And Wednesday night everybody was really on edge and the city was quite tense. And the next morning, we heard about several murders and pillaging and rapes," she says.
She says that while some shots were heard, people are back in the streets and going to the market. "We are all hoping that this is going to stay like this," she says.
Feeley says she was in a camp for the displaced located about 12 kilometers north of Goma on Wednesday and Thursday. She says, "On Wednesday, "I was actually in the camp when the FARDC retreated?when everybody started?packing up their stuff and running towards Goma."
Commenting on the status of humanitarian operations in and around Goma, she says, "It's very limited. There have been a lot of humanitarian NGOs that have evacuated, but not all. So, even before this drastic?move towards Goma (by rebels) this week, the humanitarian situation and access have been quite limited since the fighting started at the end of August? There are some ngos that are now going back out into the field and bringing water, emergency sanitation aid."
She says that she knows of at least two IDP (internally displaced persons) camps near Goma that had run out of water. What's more, there have been many reports of government soldiers using NGO trucks to escape the area.The ENOUGH Project field researcher says, "With the new (US) administration, we're really hoping that we can have a senior diplomat, a special envoy if you will, to the Great lakes region. Sort of a solid, permanent mediator pushing the right policy forward." (