The International Committee of the Red Cross says the continued fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is blocking efforts to get aid to those who need it.

ICRC spokeswoman Anna Schaaf tells VOA that recent fighting has triggered another mass exodus of civilians from North Kivu province in recent days. She says the Red Cross is very concerned that civilians have been trapped by the fighting.

DRC government troops have been waging intense battles with forces loyal to renegade General Laurent Nkunda in the region for the past week.

Schaaf expressed particular concern about women and children. Women are vulnerable to rape and other forms of indecent assault, while children are sometimes forced into becoming soldiers.

More than 400,000 people have been displaced by the conflict in the past year.

The U.N. World Food Program this week suspended its deliveries of food aid to the region because of the fighting.

Congo's government has been trying to subdue militias and rebel groups in the country's east since the end of a five-year civil war in 2003.

Nkunda, a former general in the national army, organized his own force shortly after the war. He says ethnic Tutsis in the area need protection from Rwandan Hutu rebels who entered the region after the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Some information for this reports provided by AF.