M23 rebel fighters sit on a truck during press conference in Bunagana in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo January 3, 2013. REUTERS/James Akena

Goma, Congo - Aid group Doctors Without Borders says thousands of people are without access to medical care after fleeing fighting between the army and a local militia in southeastern Congo - putting their lives at risk.

The exodus from villages in Katanga province and into the bush follows an army operation begun two weeks ago against loyalists of local warlord Gedeon Kyungu Mutanga. He escaped from prison in a mass prison break in 2011 while serving a conviction of crimes against humanity.

The aid group said Friday that thousands of people can no longer access its medical facilities, most children in its nutrition programs have left and a measles vaccination campaign has been suspended.

Many locals fear the militia that pillaged villages and was behind hundreds of killings between 2003 and 2006. - Sapa-AP