(CNN) -- A United Nations special envoy arrived in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, on Saturday for talks aimed at ending fighting between rebels and government troops in the east of the civil war-devastated country.
Special envoy Olusegun Obasanjo, a former Nigerian president, held talks with Congolese President Joseph Kabila, a U.N. mission spokesman told The Associated Press.
Obasanjo is due to travel to the eastern city of Goma later Saturday for talks with rebel leader Laurent Nkunda. A rebel spokesman told AP the meeting was scheduled to take place Sunday in a rebel-held town near the Ugandan border.
Fighting between government forces and Nkunda's rebels has displaced more than 250,000 people -- adding to roughly 800,000 already driven from their homes by previous violence, according to the United Nations.
Rebels and troops clashed briefly on Saturday in Kabasha, a village 110 kilometers (70 miles) north of Goma, according to a spokesman for U.N. peacekeepers in the area, AP said.
On Friday, the U.N. World Food Program started distributing several tons of food to rebel-held areas of eastern Congo for the first time since October, a food program spokesman said.
Peter Smerdon said a dozen trucks, escorted by a U.N. peacekeeping force, brought in food Friday to distribute in Rutshuru and Kiwanja, towns north of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.
Although some people in that area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have farms or grow their own food, they say it is too dangerous for them to harvest their crops, Smerdon said.
He said one man at a distribution center told aid workers that when he arrived at his field, armed men told him to go away. They told him they would sell the food, he said.
There is also some food for sale, "but a lot of people simply can't afford it," Smerdon said.
He said malnutrition rates in the Rutshuru district for children under the age of 5 are at "emergency levels."
Some 50,000 people had been registered to receive food, and the WFP estimated 12,000 would receive rations on Friday. No other details were available.
On Saturday, the WFP expects to send another 200 metric tons to the area, Smerdon said.
Red Cross Secretary-General Jacques Katshitshi said conditions in refugee camps in the region were "extremely difficult, " according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
"They shelter in churches, schools or wherever they can find a place to sleep. Additional temporary shelter is needed because people have to vacate the schools to facilitate the resumption of school lessons," Katshitshi said.
"There is a lack of food and water, and the hygiene conditions are terrible. Cases of malnutrition have been discovered in some of the camps. There might just be enough water to drink, but not enough for washing. This, combined with a lack of sanitation such as latrines, is putting people's health at risk."
Jules Pieters of the World Health Organization, speaking to CNN from Rwanda, also characterized the sanitary conditions across the border as "very bad."
"It's cold and wet, and [there is] poor sanitation," he said. He said WHO is bringing in 25,000 kilos (55,115 pounds) of medicine and supplies to Congo. Among those supplies are medicines to help 60,000 people for a month, he said.
"We're bringing in water purification equipment," he added. "Those purification kits can cover at least 30,000 people. To be prepared for an eventual outbreak of diarrhea disease or cholera, we're also bringing 15,000 liters of IV fluids," he said.
WHO had reported Thursday it had launched an anti-cholera operation after cases tripled in some areas to 150 a week.
In North Kivu, at least 997 cholera cases were reported from early October to early November, with most recorded in Rutshuru (466), Goma (263) and Karisimbi (145). In South Kivu during that same period, 855 cholera cases have been reported, it said.
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