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Sudan: WFP starts first major relief operation in decades in Nuba mountains

Sudan: WFP starts first major relief operation in decades in Nuba mountains

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today launched the first major relief operation in decades to the Nuba Mountains of the Sudan, to urgently feed a total of 158,000 people impoverished and displaced by war.

The 100 tonnes of food airdropped today are part of a planned 2,000 tonnes to be delivered in the coming weeks, the organization said in a statement issued in Nairobi, Kenya.

After years of UN negotiations recently facilitated by the United States Government, the Government of the Sudan and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) last week agreed on a four-week period of tranquillity to allow humanitarian assistance to reach the poor and war-battered Nuba population.

"This relief operation is a fantastic breakthrough after such long and difficult negotiations," said WFP's Country Director for the Sudan, Masood Hyder. "It is a great achievement for all parties to be finally able to help thousands of desperately needy people in the Nuba Mountains."

On 11 November, WFP sent a mission to four locations in the Nuba – Kauda, Karkar, Julud, and Saraf Jamus – to prepare for the airdrops and distribute the food on the ground. As the operation gets under way, WFP planes operating out of an airbase in El Obeid, Kordofan State, will deliver over 100 tonnes of food daily.

For years, the Nuba Mountains have been the site of serious fighting between the forces of the Government of the Sudan and the SPLM. The recent intensification of military activity has left more than 158,000 people displaced or destitute.

In other news, WFP said today that it would have to halt in its humanitarian operations in West Africa unless more contributions were received immediately. In the Mano River region that includes Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, an estimated 1 million people depend on WFP food rations for survival, the agency said, warning that any interruption in supplies would have an almost immediate impact.