UN hands out food behind rebel lines in Congo

KIWANJA, Congo (AP) -- The U.N. has begun its first large-scale food delivery in rebel-held territory of eastern Congo since fighting broke out there late last month.

The U.N. World Food Program says it's trying to distribute more than 100 tons of food to about 50,000 civilians over the next four days. Thousands of hungry and homeless people have been lining up for it.

The area north of the provincial capital of Goma has served as a breadbasket for the region. Its hills and valleys are made especially fertile by the rich volcanic soil. But according to many of the refugees, it's been too dangerous for them to harvest their crops.

One elderly man says pro-government militiamen have occupied his fields. He says they told him he would have to pay for the beans and corn he had been growing, before chasing him away at gunpoint.

The fighting has displaced at least a quarter million people in eastern Congo.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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