KHARTOUM - The United Nations World Food Programme fed more than 1.3 million people in the Darfur region of western Sudan in September, exceeding its own target of 1.2 million and recording its largest food distribution since the humanitarian crisis began.
Using a combination of trucks, aircraft and trains, WFP moved a total of 21,535 metric tons of food aid to 1,336,992 people in crisis-affected areas of North, South and West Darfur.
WFP's ability to reach this huge number of people was enhanced by the presence of large stocks of food aid in the regional centres of Nyala, El-Fasher and El-Geneina. Much of it was due to be delivered in August, but was held over until September because roads were blocked at the height of the rainy season, and land routes were closed due to widespread insecurity.
The end of the rainy season in September coupled with an increase in WFP's truck fleet opened up the possibility of moving a much greater volume of food aid by road. In the camps for internally displaced people, a stronger capacity among WFP's non-governmental organisation (NGO) partners improved the delivery of food into the hands of those in need.
"This gives us a strong platform to build upon as we strive to reach our target of two million beneficiaries by the end of the year," said Carlos Veloso, WFP's Emergency Coordinator for Darfur. "Insecurity and especially banditry along trucking routes continue to present us with problems, but our ability to meet the needs of the hungry is improving."
There are concerns, however, because although some two-thirds of the 1.3 million beneficiaries received a full ration of food aid for September, a shortage of pulses and cooking oil meant that around one-third of the IDP population did not get their full food basket.
In conjunction with other UN agencies and international NGOs, WFP has completed a survey into the food security and nutritional status of people in the three Darfur states. The results will be published later this month in a report including recommendations on how to improve the situation.
"Once all the data are in and analysed, we will have a better idea of how people are faring and how we are doing in our response," said WFP Sudan Country Director Ramiro Lopes da Silva. "The survey will allow us to fine tune our activities to the end of this year and start planning for 2005."
Of WFP's overall requirement of US$252 million for its Darfur operations in 2004, the agency has so far received US$211 million, which means there is a shortfall of US$41 million or 16 percent. Of the US$203 million needed for emergency food assistance for conflict-affected people in Darfur this year, WFP has confirmed contributions of US$166.6 million, leaving a shortfall of 18.21 percent.
Donors who have contributed to WFP's operations in Darfur include the United States (US$115 million), the European Commission (US$41.6 million), the United Kingdom (US$11 million), the Netherlands (US$7.95 million), Germany (US$7.12 million), Australia (US$4.5 million), France (US$3.68 million), Japan (US$3.05 million), Canada (US$2.9 million), Belgium (US$2.42 million), Denmark (US$2.13 million), Norway (US$1.25 million), Ireland (US$1.22 million), Italy (US$1.2 million), Spain (US$1.07 million), New Zealand (US$637,000), Finland (US$578,000), Switzerland (US$520,000), Austria (US$121,000), Luxembourg (US$118,000), Iceland (US$27,900) and Slovakia (US$24,760).
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