GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo, May 5 (UPI) -- The United Nations' refugee agency says it is helping more than 20,000 people displaced by recent fighting between army and renegade forces in the Congo.
People have fled to Goma, the capital of the North Kivu province, from their homes in the Masisi and Walikale territories where fighting has intensified in the last month. The United Nations estimates about 58,000 were displaced within the province between January and March, a U.N. statement said.
"We are working with our partners to provide assistance, including shelter and other non-food items," said a representative for the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. "Our protection staff are in the field monitoring needs and identifying the most vulnerable internally displaced people."
Many refugees are heading to the province of South Kivu, or even to Rwanda, where U.N. staff registered about 4,100 people as of Thursday who were receiving basic aid at a site near the Goma-Gisenyi crossing.
Soldiers loyal to former rebel commander Bosco Ntaganda intensified fighting with government troops in North Kivu in April.
All told, about 300,00 people were displaced throughout the country in the first three months of the year, bringing the total to more than 2 million, U.N. officials said.