Thousands of civilians are fleeing fresh fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, as Tutsi rebels close in on the regional capital.
The UN says around 30,000 displaced people, mainly ethnic Hutus, have begun to arrive in Kibati, a camp ten kilometres from Goma.
There has been fierce fighting in the northern Kivu region between government and rebel forces since late August, after the collapse of a ceasefire signed in January.
But in recent days Tutsi rebels loyal to renegade General Laurent Nkunda, have launched an offensive, forcing government troops south towards Goma.
The EU’s Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Louis Michel is due to visit the region today to assess needs. On the ground, there is scepticism:
“The UN strategy in Congo is a failure; you can’t say that the population is being protected when for more than two months now we have had 200,000 displaced people taking to the road or sleeping rough in the forest,” said Colette Gadenne, the head of the local Médecins Sans Frontières mission.
The UN patrols have themselves come under attack from ordinary Congolese who fear that the mission will fail to protect them from the rebel advance.