With food stocks running short, rations for 6 million people in Darfur could be scaled back as early as October unless funds are raised, the United Nations food agency warned today, calling on the international community to help the region’s beleaguered population.
“While the news cameras are focused on the conflict in Lebanon, the situation in Sudan has quietly grown more dangerous and desperate than ever,” said World Food Programme (WFP) Sudan Representative Kenro Oshidari. “As we continue to press for peace in Darfur, we must ensure that food aid gets to millions of hungry people trapped by violence.”
In May, WFP was forced to cut food rations by half due to funding shortages. This time, unless $350 million in funds are raised, the agency could be forced to put beneficiaries on a reduced-calorie diet. “The minimum standard food basket represents some 2,100 calories per person. With such a diet one person can survive. If you reduce the calories the implication will be a slow degradation of the nutritional status ending ultimately with starvation,” WFP spokeswoman Ellen Gustafson told the UN News Service.
The escalating violence has been another hindrance in getting food to nearly half a million people living in camps as the deaths of 11 relief workers has prompted concern by humanitarian actors working in the region.
“The safety of staff is crucial and we take great precautions to avoid dangerous situations,” Mr. Oshidari said. The organization says it can limit the risk on the ground by moving staff by air only, advocating for a political solution and raising awareness of the dire conditions on the ground through the media.”
The three-year conflict in Darfur between Sudanese government forces, pro-government militias and rebels has seen many thousands killed and more than 2 million forced to flee to camps. There have been widespread charges of civilian massacre, rape and other atrocities.