When I first started reporting from Africa eight years ago, it was almost impossible to generate any interest in the Western media for a story about Congo. This was immediately following the 9/11 attacks on the United States and the world was still reeling in the aftermath.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have since dominated our news coverage and resources during the first decade of the millennium.
Even as Democratic Republic of Congo’s war-related death toll rose above a staggering five million, making it the most lethal conflict since World War Two, the war in Central Africa remained largely unnoticed and under-reported.
But lately there has been a slight shift. In October 2008, a fresh upsurge of violence drove some 250,000 people from villages in the country’s eastern Kivu provinces, bringing to more than one million the number of internally displaced Congolese.
Congo’s war victims usually perish far from sight, deep in the bush, the latest ghosts in that country’s turbulent history. But last October, the war was accessible. Foreign journalists descended en masse into Goma, a town bordering Rwanda, and booked into hotels with picturesque views of smouldering volcanoes overlooking Lake Kivu.