WFP Calls for Urgent, Safe Access to Feed Millions in Sudan as Fighting Rages Across the Country

Photo: WFP/Abubaker Garelnabei/2024
Published February 2, 2024

PORT SUDAN – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) urgently calls on Sudan’s warring parties to provide immediate guarantees for the safe and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian food assistance to conflict-hit parts of Sudan, especially across conflict lines where hungry displaced civilians are trapped and cut-off from lifesaving humanitarian assistance.

The situation in Sudan is dire. Despite the U.N. World Food Programme’s efforts to provide food assistance to millions of people across the country since the war broke out, almost 18 million individuals across the country are currently facing acute hunger (IPC3+).

The U.N. World Food Programme has repeatedly warned of a looming hunger catastrophe in Sudan and people must be able to access aid immediately to prevent a crisis from becoming a catastrophe. Shockingly, the number of hungry has more than doubled from a year ago, and an estimated 5 million people are experiencing emergency levels of hunger (IPC phase 4) due to conflict in areas such as Khartoum, Darfur and Kordofan.

The U.N. World Food Programme is the logistics backbone of the humanitarian response in Sudan and has ramped up lifesaving assistance in response to the deepening crisis, assisting over 6.5 million people since the war broke out. To reach families in Darfur, the U.N. World Food Programme established a cross-border route from Chad, through which over 1 million people have received food assistance. Other agencies have also used the route to deliver other much needed support.

However, the U.N. World Food Programme is currently only able to regularly deliver food assistance to 1 in 10 people facing emergency levels of hunger (IPC phase 4) in Sudan. These people are trapped in conflict hotspots, including Khartoum, Darfur, Kordofan, and now Gezira, and for assistance to reach them humanitarian convoys must be allowed to cross the frontlines. Yet it is becoming nearly impossible for aid agencies to cross due to security threats, enforced roadblocks and demands for fees and taxation.

“The situation in Sudan today is nothing short of catastrophic. Millions of people are impacted by the conflict. The U.N. World Food Programme has food in Sudan, but lack of humanitarian access and other unnecessary hurdles are slowing operations and preventing us from getting vital aid to the people who most urgently need our support,” said Eddie Rowe, U.N. World Food Programme Sudan representative and country director in Sudan.

A vital humanitarian hub in Gezira state – which previously supported over 800,000 people a month – was engulfed by fighting in December and a key U.N. World Food Programme warehouse was looted. The U.N. World Food Programme is trying to obtain security guarantees to resume operations in the area to reach vulnerable families who are now trapped and in urgent need of food assistance.

Over half a million people fled Gezira in December. For many, it was the second or third time they have been displaced in this conflict, which has sparked the world’s largest displacement crisis. But just 40,000 of the newly displaced have so far received U.N. World Food Programme assistance because 70 trucks – carrying enough food to feed half a million people for one month – were stuck in Port Sudan for over two weeks in January waiting for clearances, which were only secured last week. Now, distributions are ongoing in Kassala, Gedaref and Blue Nile states.

Another 31 U.N. World Food Programme trucks, which should have been making regular aid deliveries to the Kordofans, Kosti and Wad Madani, have been parked empty and have been unable to leave El Obeid for over three months.

“Every single one our trucks need to be on the road each and every day delivering food to the Sudanese people, who are traumatized and overwhelmed after over nine months of horrifying conflict. Yet lifesaving assistance is not reaching those who need it the most, and we are already receiving reports of people dying of starvation,” said Rowe.

“Both parties to this gruesome conflict must look beyond the battlefield and allow aid organisations operate. For that, we need the uninhibited freedom of movement, including across conflict lines, to help people who so desperately need it right now, regardless of where they are,” he warned

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and the world’s leading 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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