Congolese rebels have agreed to open humanitarian corridors near the besieged city of Goma as tales of rape, looting and murder begin to emerge.
Rebel leader Laurent Nkunda, whose forces sit on the edge of the city, has called a ceasefire, but the latest violence has left tens of thousands of civilians displaced.
In Goma, residents laid low as out-of-control remnants of the Congolese army, many of them reportedly drunk, spread fear.
European Union officials are due to meet in Brussels before the weekend to discuss sending a humanitarian force to help the peacekeeping mission.
In the capital, Kinshasa, President Joseph Kabila is considering his options after Nkunda called for direct talks with the Congolese government.