The World Food Programme (WFP) has lifted a temporary suspension of operations in Sudan as fighting between rival groups pushes millions into hunger, Executive Director Cindy McCain announced on Monday.
WFP had paused its activities after three staff members were killed in North Darfur on 15 April, the first day of clashes between the Sudanese army and the rival paramilitary group, Rapid Security Forces (RSF).
McCain said food distribution is expected to begin in four states: Gedaref, Gezira, Kassala and White Nile, in the coming days.
As the security situation is still highly precarious, WFP is considering locations where humanitarian access is assured, while also taking security, capacity and access-related considerations into account.
“We will take utmost care to ensure the safety of all our staff and partners as we rush to meet the growing needs of the most vulnerable,” she said.
McCain underscored the need to end the fighting, noting that more than 15 million people were already facing severe food insecurity prior to the conflict. She warned that numbers are expected to “grow significantly” as the unrest continues.
‘A full-blown catastrophe’
With a population of 48 million, Sudan is the third most populous country in Africa. Roughly one third of all people, nearly 16 million, required humanitarian assistance prior to the conflict, and some 3.7 million were displaced, mostly in Darfur.
The conflict is turning this humanitarian crisis into “a full-blown catastrophe”, Abdou Dieng, the top UN aid official in the country, told ambassadors attending a briefing.
Hundreds of people have been killed since the fighting erupted just over two weeks ago. Tens of thousands have fled to safety, both inside and outside Sudan, while millions more have been confined to their homes, unable to access basic services.
Mr. Dieng said that despite the dire conditions, humanitarians continue to deliver life-saving assistance. Through partners, they have been providing healthcare as well as distributing supplies, medicine, water and fuel to hospitals.
“Our commitment to the people of Sudan remains unwavering,” he said, speaking from Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast.
A core UN team is now based in the city following the relocation and evacuation of staff last week from the capital, Khartoum, and elsewhere in the country.
However, he noted that humanitarian capacity has been considerably impacted by the conflict, with many offices, vehicles, warehouses looted and destroyed.