WFP delivers first food assistance to West Darfur as Sudan conflict pushes record numbers of people into hunger
GENEVA – The United Nations World Food Programme’s (WFP) fears about record levels of hunger in Sudan have been confirmed.Shortly after the conflict broke out in April, WFP forecast that hunger would rise to engulf more than 19 million people in the coming months. Now, nearly four months since the conflict started, that grim prediction has proved to be a harsh reality.
As my FAO colleague said, the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis shows that the conflict has pushed over 20 million people into severe acute hunger. That is around 42 percent of Sudan’s population. Of that figure, 6.3 million people are experiencing IPC4 or emergency levels of hunger. That is one step away from famine.
Over the last four months I have briefed you regularly on what WFP is doing in Sudan to urgently deliver food assistance to the families that desperately need it.The operating environment in Sudan is without a doubt the most challenging that I have experienced in my career, which spans more than 30-years with WFP. Since mid-April, the conflict has continued to spread, and its dynamics have become increasingly more complex. Gaining access to people in need of life-saving food assistance has also become more challenging and increasingly urgent.
Last week we had a major breakthrough. For the first time, WFP was able to deliver food assistance in West Darfur State. A convoy of five trucks transporting 125 tonnes of food commodities travelled from eastern Chad to West Darfur where we delivered one month’s worth of food assistance to around 15,400 people in the villages of Adikong, Shukri, and Jarabi.
It is our hope that this route from Chad will become a regular humanitarian corridor to reach these families in West Darfur, especially in Geneina – the capital of West Darfur - where lives have been torn apart by the violence. The situation in the Darfurs, and particularly in West and Central Darfur, is catastrophic. Our teams passed through towns and villages that are abandoned following a mass exodus of people. Health facilities, banks and other critical infrastructure are destroyed.
Those that remain are mostly women and their children who are acutely vulnerable and have not fled because they are too scared. Their husbands have been killed, injured, or have gone missing.These families are barely surviving. Most are only eating just one meal a day, sharing what food they have with neighbours and selling what they own simply to afford food. Some markets are beginning to reopen with limited food coming in from Chad. But food is their most urgent need.
Since the conflict started, WFP has delivered emergency food and nutrition assistance to 1.6 million people across Sudan. This includes people trapped by the fighting in Khartoum State, the Kordofans, and across the Darfurs.
Providing assistance in Khartoum State remains extremely challenging due to ongoing fighting. The situation is volatile, and we have to seize often brief windows of calm to get our trucks into these areas and to safely deliver the food assistance into the hands of people who need it. WFP has so far assisted over 150,000 in the greater Khartoum area (Karari, Ombada, Omdurman, Jabal Awlia) since the end of May and we are continuing to scale up assistance to people who are fleeing Sudan's capital to neighbouring states such as Gezira, Northern, and River Nile. Today, we have trucks carrying another 460 metric tons of food assistance heading to Jabal Awlia in the Khartoum area.
To support the entire humanitarian community operating within this very challenging environment, WFP is providing common services, such as emergency telecommunications, for 19 UN agencies and 15 I/NGOs. The WFP- run UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) has transported over 1,500 humanitarian workers in and out of Port Sudan since the conflict erupted.
We are doing everything possible to expand access and increase assistance in Darfur and across Sudan. We are planning further assessment missions into West Darfur from Chad and negotiating access to other remote areas in Darfur. We urgently call on all parties to the conflict to facilitate humanitarian access and enable the safe delivery of assistance at this critical time when millions in Sudan are struggling with rising hunger and living on the brink of survival.
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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.
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