In video

UN struggles to get aid to thousands of civilians

It also hailed "the observance of the ceasefire" it imposed on Thursday after renegade troops tried to take the town of Sake, Gabriel de Brosses, Monuc spokesman, said.

The truce was announced on Thursday after nearly two weeks of fighting between the army and soldiers loyal to General Laurent Nkunda, but there were reports of it being broken within 24 hours.

General Bikram Singh, Monuc's military commander, said the renegade troops' retreat from urban centres would be a "first step" to allow the truce to be consolidated.

Humanitarian efforts

UN officials said on Saturday that the violence was hampering efforts to deliver food aid to the tens of thousands of displaced civilians.

"I met some thousands of people yesterday who've just fled the town of Sake which have been threatened by the forces of General Nkunda," John Holmes, UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, told Al Jazeera after a three-day visit to the region.

"We sleep under the stars without shelter. We have nothing to eat because we brought nothing with us"

Jean Balengele
"They were in a pretty poor state, they were pretty poor already because they have been displaced several times before and have been unable to cultivate their fields normally for some years now, so their resources are virtually at an end."

Aid workers said the population at a makeshift displaced persons' camp at Mugunga, had swelled to 27,000 people, most of whom fled Sake and the surrounding area.

"We sleep under the stars without shelter. We have nothing to eat because we brought nothing with us," Jean Balengele, a pastor displaced by the fighting, said.
"Nobody here is giving us anything."

The region was once nominally controlled by rival rebel factions who later signed a peace deal with the government to end the war, which lasted from 1998 to 2002.
Nkunda, who is believed to be close to military officials in Rwanda, quit the army and launched his own rebellion after the war ended, claiming the country's transition to democracy was flawed and excluded the country's ethnic Tutsi minority.