16 Nov 2008

UN feeds Congolese refugees amid urgent peace talks

6:36 pm on 16 November 2008

Aid workers in eastern Congo have begun feeding tens of thousands of hungry refugees in rebel-held areas as a United Nations-appointed envoy starts urgent talks aimed at averting a wider war.

The new UN envoy -- the former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo -- has arrived in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo on a mission to end the fighting there.

Conflict between government and rebel troops has displaced a quarter of a million people in recent weeks.

Mr Obasanjo is tasked with seeking a lasting solution to the conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo's North Kivu province.

He will hold talks with Congolese President Joseph Kabila and also wants to meet the rebel leader Laurent Nkunda.

Fighting between Mr Nkunda's Tutsi rebels and the Congolese army has forced some 250,000 people from their homes in North Kivu since late August, resulting in what the UN has called a humanitarian catastrophe amid fears of a broader war.