Hi, this is Tuver,
Eastern DR Congo is rarely peaceful. However, insecurity in the region has not been as bad as it is right now for some time.
As you may have read in the news or heard on the radio, fighting recently broke out around the edges of the Virunga National Park. Rebels, some of them under the command of General Bosco Ntaganda – who you may know by his nickname ‘The Terminator’ – have been fighting against the Congolese army. While they had been brought into the regular army back in 2009, they have broken away again.
As I write, fighting between the army, who have the support of the UN, and the various militia of the rebels, is continuing just a few miles from the area of the park where the mountain gorillas live. According to our colleagues working in the Virunga National Park, missiles have been fired into the park in an attempt to flush the rebels out of the forest and tragically, one national park ranger was killed after his patrol was ambushed while carrying out their important work.
Unsurprisingly, this new insecurity has caused widespread panic among the communities living right alongside the park. Here in Goma, hundreds of people are arriving every day, fleeing from the fighting and seeking protection in the city. As a result of this rise in displaced peoples, I have seen the prices in the local markets go up over the past few days. Also, people are having to sleep in churches and even schools, meaning children’s education is being disrupted.
I can tell you that, so far, the mountain gorillas have been unharmed, though I’m sure they must have heard the gunfire. However, some of the rangers who usually protect the gorillas are unable to carry out their routine patrols, so it’s a very worrying time for us.
I’m sure you’ll understand that I don’t have any pictures to share with you as it’s just too dangerous to go near to where the fighting is right now. I’ll be sure to let you know if there are any major developments, but all we can do right now is sit tight and hope the fighting ends soon.