European Commission donation helps sustain WFP operations in Darfur

The WFP mission in Darfur has received a welcome boost with two significant donations from the European Commission.

The WFP mission in Darfur has received a welcome boost with two significant donations from the European Commission: €26 million for WFP’s emergency relief operations and €2 million for the Humanitarian Air Service (WFPHAS), which transports both WFP and other humanitarian staff to areas which are inaccessible by road.

“This generous contribution will have a direct impact on the well-being of the people we’re trying to help in Darfur,” said Kenro Oshidari, WFP’s Representative in Sudan.

“With these funds, we can replenish our food stocks and keep WFPHAS helicopters and aircraft flying, so that all those engaged in providing humanitarian assistance can reach remote parts of Darfur that would otherwise be cut off.”

Growing commitment

This donation brings the EC’s total contribution to WFP Sudan to €71.9 million in 2006 – a 60 percent increase over its 2005 contribution.

“The EC’s commitment to WFP has grown in response to the increasingly urgent needs of the people of Darfur. We’re currently feeding nearly 2.7 million people, thanks in great part to the generosity of the Europeans,” Oshidari said.

Earlier this week, EC President José Manuel Barroso and Louis Michel, Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid visited the region, travelling to the town of El Fasher in North Darfur, where some of the most inaccessible areas are located.

Deep concern

Barroso visited WFP’s warehouse, where he watched – and personally assisted – with the unloading of trucks carrying sugar, part of a recent shipment of European food aid.

Commissioner Michel expressed his deep concern for the people of Darfur, many of whom have been cut off from food aid.

In August, WFP fed a total 2.6 million people in Darfur, but was unable to reach a further 355,000 people – mostly in North Darfur – due to ongoing fighting and banditry, which have blocked humanitarian aid.

New donations needed

WFP’s Sudan Emergency operation is budgeted at US$746 million in 2006, with Darfur representing 70 percent of that budget.

WFP currently has enough food for its beneficiaries until the end of 2006, but unless new donations are made soon, food stocks will begin to run down in January.

WFP could face a shortfall between January and March 2007.