WFP has announced that in September, food rations reached more than 158,000 people in Darfur, western Sudan, who have been cut off in recent months.
The number of people not reached has been dropping steadily from 470,000 in July to 355,000 in August and now 224,000.
WFP calls upon all parties to the conflict to recognise the vital work of humanitarians to provide food, water, health and other urgently need services to the civilian population
Kenro Oshidari, WFP Representative in Sudan
While heartened by this improvement, among the 224,000 not reached last month are 139,000 who have gone without food aid for four months.
Although some areas of Darfur are still inaccessible, WFP successfully distributed food aid to a total of three million conflict-affected people in Darfur in September.
Figures released today show that the improvement in reaching beneficiaries is thanks to the strong cooperation among the humanitarian aid community to negotiate access and organise delivery.
WFP food aid was distributed in parts of Darfur previously cut off by fighting and banditry.
“Despite the difficult security situation, WFP and our partners in non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were able to take advantage of windows of opportunity to deliver long-awaited food aid to parts of North Darfur. We are working hard to reach those who remain cut off,” said Kenro Oshidari, WFP Representative in Sudan.
Those who were newly reached last month live in the northernmost part of Darfur.
They were given a double ration to cover the months of September and October; continued insecurity means that WFP cannot guarantee that access for food deliveries will be available this month.
“The situation is especially serious because we are in the annual ‘hunger season’ just before the harvest, when there is very little food available,” Oshidari said. “In a volatile situation, food aid is vital to stability.”
The harvest is expected to begin soon, so food availability in communities should improve.
However, the persistent insecurity means that some people – if they were lucky enough to have planted at all – may be prevented from harvesting their crops.
However, the situation across the region remains precarious. Carjacking and harassment of drivers of trucks carrying supplies increased last month, hampering the operations of many national and international NGOs and UN agencies.
WFP and other aid groups have been warning that the Darfur region was reaching a critical state.
Mounting instability in many parts of the region has made it more difficult for aid workers to reach more than three million people who need international aid.
Aid workers killed
Twelve humanitarian workers have been killed in Darfur since May – more than the total number since the conflict began in early 2003.
“WFP calls upon all parties to the conflict to recognise the vital work of humanitarians to provide food, water, health and other urgently need services to the civilian population,” Oshidari said.
Thanks to the recent confirmation of some major donations, so far this year, WFP has received 89 percent of the US$746 million required for its emergency operation.