UN warns Sudanese warring parties of risk of starvation and death if aid is not granted to Darfur

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The United Nations food agency warned warring parties in Sudan on Friday that there is a serious risk of an epidemic. Starvation and death in Darfur If we don’t allow humanitarian aid to the vast western region, then to other parts of Sudan as well.

At least 1.7 million people faced emergency levels of hunger in Darfur in December, and that number is “expected to rise further today,” said Leni Kinsuri, regional spokesperson for the World Food Program. Ta.

“Our call for humanitarian access to conflict-ridden areas in Sudan has never been more important,” she told a virtual U.N. press conference from Nairobi.

Sudan was plunged into chaos in mid-April 2023. General Abdel Fattah Burhanand a paramilitary rapid support force. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, urban fighting broke out in the capital, Khartoum. Fighting has spread to other parts of the country, particularly in urban areas and the Darfur region.

The militia, known as the RSF, has taken control of much of Darfur and is besieging Darfur’s only capital, El Fasher, where about 500,000 civilians have taken refuge.

Kinsuri said WFP partners on the ground have reported that the situation in El Fasher is “extremely dire” and that civilians seeking refuge from reported RSF bombing and shelling are finding it difficult to evacuate. Ta.

She said violence around El Fasher and North Darfur was worsening the situation. critical humanitarian needs Across the Darfur region, production of staple grains such as wheat, sorghum and millet is 78% lower than the five-year average.

In addition to the effects of escalating violence, “WFP is concerned that hunger will increase dramatically as the lean season between harvests begins and people run out of food,” Kinsuri said. Stated. She said a farmer in El Fasher recently told her that families had already exhausted their food reserves and were living hand to mouth, marking the early start of the “low season” that usually begins in May. He said it shows.

Kinsuri said she received photos from colleagues early Friday of severely malnourished children and elderly people with “nothing but skin and bones left” in a camp for displaced people in central Darfur.

“Recent reports from our partners indicate that 20 children have died from malnutrition in this IDP camp in recent weeks,” she said.

“People rely on consuming grass and peanut shells,” Kinzli said. “And if aid does not arrive soon, we risk witnessing widespread starvation and death in Darfur and other conflict areas in Sudan.”

Kinsuri called for “a concerted diplomatic effort by the international community to urge parties to the conflict to provide guarantees of access and security” for humanitarian workers and convoys.

“This year of devastating conflict in Sudan has unprecedented hunger catastrophe And we risk creating the world’s biggest hunger crisis,” she warned. “Around 28 million people face food insecurity across Sudan, South Sudan and Chad, and conflicts are spilling over and exacerbating the challenges we have already faced over the last year.”

In March, Sudanese authorities revoked WFP’s permit to deliver aid from neighboring Chad to West Darfur and Central Darfur from the town of Adre for allegedly transferring weapons across the border to the RSF. Kinsuri said Sudanese authorities’ restrictions in Port Sudan also prevent WFP from transporting aid through Adore.

Sudanese authorities have approved the shipment of aid from the Chadian town of Tina to North Darfur, but Kinzuri said WFP can no longer use that route for security reasons, as it will take it directly into besieged El Fasher. said.

Gunmen killed two International Committee of the Red Cross drivers and wounded three ICRC staff members in South Darfur on Thursday. on friday, UN Humanitarian Director Martin Griffiths He said the killings of aid workers were “unconscionable.”

Kinsuri said “fighting and endless bureaucratic hurdles” have prevented WFP from delivering aid to more than 700,000 people in Darfur ahead of the rainy season, when many roads are impassable. He said there was.

“WFP currently has 8,000 tonnes of food supplies in Chad ready and ready to be transported, but due to these constraints we are unable to do so,” she said.

“WFP urgently demands unrestricted access and security guarantees to provide assistance,” she said. “And we must be able to use the Adre border crossing to move aid across the front lines, from Port Sudan in the east to Darfur, to reach the people of this desperate region.”

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