Spanish UN force commander in DR Congo Lt. Gen. Vicente Diaz de Villegas resigns after 7 weeks in job
Joe Bavier, a freelance journalist working in North Kivu, told Al Jazeera that the anti-government offensive was rapidly taking control of territory.
"For the last few days we have had fighting just north of the provincial capital, Goma. That calmed a bit, but now there has been a fresh offensive by the rebels, pushing north along the main road out of Goma towards Rutshuru," he said.
"Rutshuru is one of four urban areas that MONUC has vowed to defend at all costs. Today UN humanitarian workers are preparing to evacuate the town.
"We are still trying to verify whether the town has fallen into the hands of the rebels."
The scale of humanitarian losses is that some 250,000 civilians have fled their homes in North Kivu since a very flaky peace deal collapsed in August.
The UN says that about 850,000 people had been displaced in two years of sporadic fighting before a previous peace deal was signed in January.