The World Food Programme (WFP) says there was “a major breakthrough” in Sudan, where the aid agency has been distributing food to civilians trapped in the war-torn country’s capital city Khartoum.
The UN arm said it had since Saturday taken advantage of the week-long ceasefire despite reports of isolated gunfire exchanges in some parts of the city.
“This is a major breakthrough. We have finally been able to help families who are stuck in Khartoum and struggling to make it through each day as food and basic supplies dwindle,” said Eddie Rowe, WFP’s country director in Sudan.
The US Bureau of African Affairs noted that “while imperfectly observed, the May 20 2023 ceasefire enabled delivery of humanitarian assistance”.
WPF said it had, by the end of the agreed ceasefire on Monday, managed to reach more than 12 000 people in sections controlled by both warring military factions.
WFP said in a statement:
WFP has distributed food assistance to 12 445 people in both Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) controlled areas of Omdurman, part of the Khartoum metropolitan area.
Reaching more people will depend on the security situation. The warring parties had since agreed to an extension of five days, to Saturday.
“WFP must do more, but that depends on the parties to the conflict and the security and access they realistically guarantee on the ground,” said Rowe.
In Port Sudan, where most fleeing the conflict are headed, WFP supplied basic provisions to 4 000 displaced people.
At present, WFP is targeting to reach 675 000 people in 13 of the country’s 18 districts.
The majority, half a million, are located in Khartoum.
But with more than 19 million people, or 40% of the population, affected, the acute food insecurity in Sudan could reach historic highs.
WFP has projected that it would attempt to reach nearly six million people in need at a cost of about R13.8 billion ($731 million).
Makeshift clinic provides care in war-torn Sudan
“WFP is expanding to support 5.9 million people across Sudan over the next six months as hunger rises,” the agency said in a statement.
The conflict is affecting Sudan’s agriculture cycle as well as other industries linked to food production, preservation and distribution.
Due to the continued bloodshed, it is anticipated that up to 2.5 million people in Sudan may go hungry in the upcoming months.
The WFP is not alone in offering aid in Sudan, but it’s also been hard to communicate because the war has disrupted telecommunications in the country.
As such WFP provides emergency communication.
The organisation added:
WFP is also providing emergency telecoms services to all United Nations agencies and the wider humanitarian community in Sudan where basic connectivity is challenging.
Kenyan President William Ruto tweeted: “The situation in Sudan is unfortunate considering the efforts that had already been made towards bringing peace and stability to the country and her people.”
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that by October a million people would have fled Sudan.