WFP temporarily halts food aid in Sudan as conflict escalates

The World Food Programme (WFP) has ceased food aid operations in parts of al-Jazirah state, impacting over 800,000 people as violence intensifies South and East of Khartoum, the capital of Sudan.

FILE PHOTO: A logo of the World Food Program is seen at their headquarters after the WFP won the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, in Rome, Italy October 9, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/FILE PHOTO

The conflict has led to the displacement of nearly 300,000 individuals from the state which was once a relatively peaceful region.

According to Reuters, Eddie Rowe, WFP representative and country director for Sudan, expressed the grim transformation of a place of refuge into a battlefield, addressing the ongoing war’s impact on civilians.

While Rowe underscores the commitment to assisting the people of Sudan, he emphasizes that the safety of staff and partners is non-negotiable. “We are committed to supporting the people of Sudan in their hour of greatest need, but the safety of our staff and partners must be guaranteed,” Rowe stated.

The suspension of food aid is considered a significant setback for humanitarian efforts, deeply disturbing Karim Abdelmoneim, WFP’s emergency coordinator for al-Jazirah state. “We already lost our homes in Khartoum and watched as our lives were destroyed before our eyes. Now we are forced to flee yet again, leaving behind what little we had left,” Abdelmoneim lamented.

He added that, “hundreds of thousands are fleeing on foot, with nowhere to go. We are so worried about those who already lived through the horrors in Khartoum, and now find themselves trapped in Wad Madani with no way out.”

On Wednesday, UN human rights chief Volker Turk expressed grave concern over reports of widespread abuses and violations in the fighting around Wad Madani. “I am very alarmed by recurring reports of widespread abuses and violations of human rights in recent days amid fighting between the Sudan Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces in Wad Madani,” Turk emphasized.

The WFP cautioned about the potential impact if the conflict extends into Sudan’s grain belt, determining severe consequences on agricultural production and supplies in the coming months. Rowe puts across a warning as he emphasized the importance of maintaining Sudan’s breadbasket for farming, not fighting, to avoid a hunger crisis in May 2024 during the lean season.

Despite the ongoing harvest season, a staggering 18 million people in Sudan lack access to sufficient food, which further worsens the country’s critical food security situation. The decision to suspend food aid underscores the urgent need for a resolution to the conflict and the restoration of stability to prevent further humanitarian crises.

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