TO SUPPORT PEACE IN SUDAN, WFP APPEALS FOR US$302 MILLION FOR WAR & DROUGHT VICTIMS
NAIROBI - With the momentous signing today of a peace accord which brings to an end one of Africa's longest and bloodiest wars, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is launching a US$302 million emergency appeal to feed 3.2 million Sudanese.
Over the next 12 months, some 268,000 metric tonnes of food will be required for war and drought affected people primarily in south Sudan. Many of those requiring food assistance also inhabit the so-called transitional areas of Abyei, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, as well as the chronically food insecure Red Sea State and Kassala State in the east.
"The survival of impoverished families is very much at stake, and we hope the donor community will continue to provide funds to keep thousands of Sudanese alive," said
Ramiro Lopes da Silva, WFP Country Director for Sudan. "Hunger and malnutrition are still a daily reality."
Two decades of war have left an estimated two million people dead and four million displaced in south Sudan. The bitter conflict has also wrecked the almost non-existent infrastructure as well as the dismal economy. Food production, often held up by fighting and continuous displacement, was additionally devastated by recurrent droughts.
In 2005, food production in the south is expected to be particularly poor, due to late and erratic rains, and the failure of seasonal flooding to make up for the arid conditions prevalent in the region. As a result, the harvest is likely to be 46 percent lower than last year. With more than half a million refugees and displaced people expected to return home after the peace agreement, food shortages and hunger are a major concern.
"Peace brings a whole new set of challenges with it," said Lopes da Silva. "Many of those who fled their homes during the war have already started returning home, adding pressure to already limited resources available within these communities."
"After the long-awaited signing of the agreement, people have high expectations for change. The international community must show its commitment by addressing immediate needs, while also supporting long-term reconstruction. It is crucial for the Sudanese to see the immediate dividends of peace - if peace is to last."
In its efforts to address the basic nutritional needs of Sudan's poor, WFP continues to respond to the humanitarian emergency in the Darfur region of western Sudan where the agency has, in December, reached a record number of 1.5 million people affected by the conflict in the region.
Meanwhile, WFP is also engaged in the long-term recovery of Sudan. Thousands of children are receiving daily nutritional meals through school feeding projects that encourage attendance and promote education, particularly among girls.
WFP has also been conducting emergency repairs on 1,600 kilometres of roads in the south. The newly de-mined and upgraded roads linking south Sudan to neighbouring Kenya and Uganda - are intended to facilitate the return of displaced people and stimulate economic activity.
"The reconstruction of roads is, without a doubt, one of the most important contributions towards peace and reconciliation. Trade will increase, local markets will flourish, the movement of people will be greatly helped, and ultimately, there will be economic growth. These are the kind of tangible peace dividends which the Sudanese have been waiting for," said Lopes da Silva.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: in 2003 we gave food aid to a record 104 million people in 81 countries, including 56 million hungry children. Web: www.wfp.org.
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