The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today expressed concern about chronically impoverished regions in the southern, central and eastern parts of Sudan, and said it was increasing its assistance to those areas despite critical funding shortages, a lack of sufficient jet fuel and the transport obstacles of the rainy season.
Speaking at a press briefing in Geneva, WFP spokesperson Christiane Berthiaume said an annual "hunger gap" had developed in many parts of the country. The agency was particularly concerned about the regions of Bahr El Ghazal in the South, and the Kordofans in central Sudan and Red Sea State and Kassala in the East after Inter-agency rapid needs assessment missions earlier this year.
In response, WFP is increasing its assistance and providing aid for an additional 267,000 people from June to September, she said.
A second round of food security assessments is due to begin next week in Bahr El Ghazal and Unity State, ahead of rolling assessments in the Kordofan and White Nile regions.
Ms. Berthiaume said the response is severely hampered by the late arrival of donor funds and severe shortages of Jet-A1 fuel – as well as limitations on road deliveries and airlifts imposed by the rainy season.
More than halfway through the year, WFP has 55 per cent of the $302 million needed to feed 3.2 million people in the country in 2005, leaving a shortfall of $137 million, or 45 per cent, she said.
Worse-than-expected crop failure and new displacement in conflict areas led in May to an upward revision, to $1.9 billion, of the estimate of total funds needed for humanitarian programmes in the country, which was ravaged by a decades-long civil war in the south and separate conflict involving rebels, the Government and militias in the Darfur region since 2003. Most of those funds have yet to be received.