It has been seven months since M23 rebels cut off the primary north / south road between Goma and Butembo. This is the key road that connects Goma, the capital of North Kivu, with the rest of North Kivu province. With all other routes already cut off, it is now reported that the last workaround route via the town of Kitshanga is no longer available as that town has also been captured by the rebels. (click to enlarge)

This has all the makings of a humanitarian catastrophe that the world is ignoring. This further isolates the city of Goma where there have been serious food and other shortages. Access to Rwanda remains, but basic items are either limited in supply or have much higher cost when coming from Rwanda. Our Goma block project has been on hold due to the tensions.

The M23 rebels are ethnically Congolese Tutsi, the same ethic group that suffered the bulk of the genocide in Rwanda. The president of Rwanda since 2000, Paul Kagame, is Tutsi. Many in Congo accuse Kagame of supporting the M23 rebels, something Kagame has always denied, but someone must be arming and funding the rebels. Congo has a porous jungle border on the east, enabling arms to be smuggled through either Rwanda or Uganda.

MONUSCO, the UN peace keeping force, remains in Congo with over 18,000 personnel. They are despised by the majority of Congolese due to their perceived ineffectiveness and corruption. Most contributor nations are happy to have the UN pay for their soldiers as a funded employment program but have no incentive to risk their lives in actual combat roles.