Heavy fighting around the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo city of Goma has cut power lines. Water systems and hospitals have been left without electricity to run essential services.
The operator of the network that supplies about 80% of Goma’s electricity is Virunga National Park. It says the fighting had cut off the main power lines to the city of over 2 million people and the capital city of North Kivu province.
UN and Congo’s officials claim the Tutsi-led M23 armed group in Goma is supported by neighbouring Rwanda but Rwanda denies this.
A company spokesman said continued bombings around the area have been a challenge, though their engineers have been able to gain access to the site to begin repairs on the main line.
The U.N. peacekeeping mission MONUSCO and the Congolese army have launched a fresh campaign around Goma to widen its security perimeter in the area.
Around 300,000 people have fled their homes due to the fighting. So far, the UN says about 1 million people have been displaced by the war.
Camps for displaced persons exist around Goma. Virunga National Park said these camps get clean water from pumping stations which can only work with electricity.
John Banyene, a civil society coordinator for North Kivu province describes the situation as a crime against humanity.
He said the consequences are deadly for the displaced residents of Goma and North Kivu.
Goma is located on the northern shore of Lake Kivu, next to the Rwandan city of Gisenyi. It is the capital of North Kivu province in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The lake and the two cities are in the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift system.
The recent history of Goma has been dominated by the volcano and the Rwandan genocide of 1994, which in turn fueled the First and Second Congo Wars.
The aftermath of these events was still having effects on the city and its surroundings in 2010. The city was captured by rebels of the March 23 Movement during the M23 rebellion in late 2012, but it has since been retaken by government forces.
Goma is the home of the annual Amani Festival which celebrates peace and in 2020 it attracted an audience of 36,000.