The United Nations food relief agency warned today that the security situation in Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region is so volatile that it is hampering the delivery and distribution of food aid to the vast population of internally displaced persons (IDPs).
World Food Programme (WFP) deliveries and humanitarian operations have been suspended in the northwest section of North Darfur state since Sunday after the deaths there of two staff members of Save The Children (UK).
The two humanitarian workers for the non-governmental organization (NGO), a British national and a Sudanese national, were killed when their vehicle was struck by a landmine. A third staff member was injured.
At its weekly press briefing in Khartoum, the UN Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS) reported that the northwest has been declared a no-go area for all UN humanitarian agencies since the weekend.
WFP said in its statement that the closure in the northwest means about 50,000 people, mostly IDPs, will miss out on its food assistance programme - jeopardizing the agency's target of feeding 2 million people in Darfur every month by the end of this year.
About 1.45 million Sudanese live as IDPs in Darfur and another 200,000 people are refugees in Chad, driven from their homes by brutal attacks from armed militias and by fighting between Sudanese Government forces and two rebel groups.
WFP said it has also faced problems in other parts of North Darfur and in South Darfur state, where armed bandits have ambushed and attacked or looted humanitarian vehicles on several occasions during the past week.
More than 6,000 tons of food has been dispatched to needy people so far in October, but deliveries have been slower than expected because truck drivers are now using longer routes to avoid insecure areas.
Meanwhile, UNAMIS spokesperson Radhia Achouri said the Darfur peace talks taking place in Abuja, Nigeria, are scheduled to resume on 21 October, with the African Union (AU) continuing to mediate and UN officials participating.
Jan Pronk, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sudan, has told Khartoum and the rebel groups that they should focus on political issues and the root causes of their conflict when they resume their negotiations.
The AU's Peace and Security Commission is slated to meet on Tuesday in Addis Ababa to discuss the proposal to expand the size and mandate of its ceasefire monitoring mission in Darfur.