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UN food programme warns of famine in Darfur if warring parties don't allow aid in

Sudanese children suffering from malnutrition are treated at an MSF clinic in Chad   -  
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Patricia Simon/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.


The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that time is running out to prevent famine in Sudan’s Darfur region.

It says intensifying clashes in North Darfur’s capital, El Fasher, is hindering efforts to deliver vital food assistance to the region.

Civilians in the town and the wider Darfur region are already facing devastating levels of hunger, yet deliveries of food assistance have been intermittent due to bureaucratic hurdles and the ongoing fighting.

Sudan has been at war for over a year now, since simmering tensions between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces exploded in April 2023.

El Fasher had been a relative safe-haven for families, hosting many IDP camps that pre-date the current conflict. Yet conditions were already critical, with reports of children dying of malnutrition.

The latest escalation of violence around the town has halted aid convoys coming from Chad’s Tine border crossing – a recently opened humanitarian corridor that passes through North Darfur’s capital.

“Our calls for humanitarian access to conflict hotspots in Sudan have never been more critical. We urgently require unrestricted access and security guarantees to deliver assistance to the families struggling for survival amid devastating levels of violence,” says the WFP spokesperson in Sudan, Leni Kinzli.

She says the WFP needs to be able to use the Adre border crossing and move assistance across frontlines from Port Sudan in the east, into Darfur so it can reach people in the region.

The access constraints are hampering efforts to bring food into the region ahead of the rainy season when many roads will become impassable.

The UN food agency says close to two million people in Darfur are experiencing emergency levels of hunger.

Kinzli said on Friday she received photos from colleagues on the ground of severely malnourished children in a camp for displaced people in Central Darfur, as well as older people.

“People are resorting to consuming grass and peanut shells. And if assistance doesn’t reach them soon, we risk witnessing widespread starvation and death in Darfur and across other conflict-affected areas in Sudan,” she says.

The WFP is calling for “a concerted diplomatic effort by the international community to push the warring parties to provide access and safety guarantees” for humanitarian staff and convoys.

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