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Relief distribution in southern Sudan disrupted by bombing raid, UN agency says

Relief distribution in southern Sudan disrupted by bombing raid, UN agency says

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today expressed grave concern over a series of bomb attacks in the southern Sudanese village of Mangayath in Bahr el Ghazal, where aid workers have been urgently assisting thousands of people seeking refuge from intense fighting in Raja town.

As WFP teams distributed relief food yesterday to some 20,000 civilians, 15 bombs were dropped into the area, killing at least one person and injuring 14, the agency said. The raid followed a similar attack on 5 October, when 15 bombs were dropped around the airfield in Mangayath where WFP teams were handing out relief food, forcing the agency to suspend food distribution for one day. When deliveries resumed yesterday, the area again came under attack.

Despite the insecurity, WFP teams plan to continue distributing relief food in Mangayath. If security holds, more food airdrops will be sent in as part of the 240-tonne total planned for delivery over the coming days, the agency said.

Since late September, some 20,000 people have fled from Raja to Mangayath area. About 1,000 people are arriving every day, including many women and children who have made the 25-kilometre trek with few or no belongings.

Until the recent influx, Mangayath's population was only 2,000 people, most of whom can barely feed themselves and therefore offer little assistance to newcomers. Until relief assistance started, the main source of food for the arriving population had been wild foods, which, as townspeople, the displaced people were not accustomed to.

According to aid workers on the ground, shelter conditions in the area are appalling and health facilities highly inadequate. With only two working bore-holes, access to water is also very limited.

WFP began air-dropping aid to the area on 4 October, when 72 metric tonnes of food were delivered.