The people of Kibati, in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, have been celebrating after roads reopened, following weeks of harsh controls from a rebel group.
Kibati, near the town of Rutshuru , was one of the many areas that fell under the control of the M23 armed group.
Fighting has continued between the rebels and a coalition of armed civilian protection militia, which have been battling each other in eastern Congo for more than a year, since M23 rebels resurfaced after being dormant for nearly a decade.
On Wednesday connections between Rutshuru and Goma were reopened, allowing trucks packed with products and people stuck in the region to return home.
"I feel very happy, I have just left Kiwanja. I spent two months there. I had left my children and my husband. It is a great joy to find them again at my home in Goma,” said Safi Akunatiya as she travelled with others on the back of a truck.
The occupied towns were subjected not only to violence but also widespread hunger, according to many who had left the area.
"We were living in pain, my brother. There is famine and also we were very badly treated," truck driver Amani Safari said..
"Children don't study anymore, and people are at risk of dying because of the famine. Because the beans, the corn are in the fields but no one is there to harvest it and no one can come and buy them," he added.
The UN reported on Thursday that rebels in eastern Congo had killed at least 131 people and inflicted “unspeakable violence” against civilians.
The M23 rebel group killed men, women and children in two villages in Rutshuru territory last month, according to a preliminary investigation by the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office in Congo and MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping mission in the country.