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UN food official urges unrestricted access for Sudan aid delivery amid starvation crisis

[Steve Evans from Citizen of the World | Wikimedia Commons]

World Food Programme (WFP) spokesperson in Sudan, Leni Kinzli, called Friday for unrestricted access and security assurances to deliver aid to families struggling to survive amid devastating violence in Darfur and other conflict zones across Sudan, saying “time is running out to prevent starvation.”

Kinzli underscored the critical need for WFP to use the Adré border crossing to transport aid across the front lines into Darfur, where she previously said at least 1.7 million people face emergency levels of hunger, a figure WFP now expects to be significantly higher. The spokeswoman also sounded the alarm that hunger is expected to spike as the lean season arrives before the next harvest and food supplies dwindle.

During a UN press conference, Kinzli said that intensifying clashes in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, are hampering WFP’s efforts to deliver desperately needed food aid to the region. While civilians in El Fasher and greater Darfur are already facing severe hunger, Kinzli said aid deliveries have been sporadic due to the ongoing fighting and bureaucratic hurdles. She said the recent upsurge in violence around El Fasher has “halted aid convoys” from the El Tina border crossing in Chad, which recently opened as a humanitarian corridor. Kinzli reported that WFP is also being prevented from transporting aid through the Adré humanitarian corridor from Chad, “the only other viable cross-border corridor.”

These restrictions, she warned, “are jeopardizing our [WFP’s] plans to deliver vital assistance to over 700,000 people ahead of the rainy season, when many of the roads across Darfur become impassable.” While the program currently has 8,000 metric tons of food ready to move from Chad into Sudan, Kinzli said it cannot proceed because of the access restrictions. The dire situation is forcing desperate measures, as Kinzli reveals, “People are resorting to eating grass and peanut shells.”

Agriculture forms the economic backbone of Sudan, with around 65 percent of the population engaged in this sector. However, according to the UN’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the ongoing conflict has severely restricted agricultural production, caused major damage to infrastructure and livelihoods, disrupted trade flows and driven up prices significantly. Alarmingly, the conflict has now spread to the state of Al Jazirah, which accounts for approximately 50 percent of the country’s wheat production and 10 percent of its sorghum output, both essential crops. Save the Children warns that unless urgent life-saving funding and aid address the needs arising from Sudan’s worsening crisis, nearly 230,000 children, pregnant women, and new mothers could perish from hunger in the coming months.

The current crisis in Sudan erupted in April 2023, when the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF)—former allies who jointly toppled long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019—turned against each other through armed conflict. Tensions have been simmering since 2021 over disputes surrounding the transition process, reforms in the security sector, lines of command and control, as well as the proposed integration of the RSF paramilitary group into Sudan’s national army.

At present, the RSF forces have managed to seize control over most areas of the Darfur region, and they have El Fasher—the sole remaining provincial capital not under their authority—under siege. According to Kinzli, ground reports from WFP partners paint an “extremely dire” picture in El Fasher, where an estimated 500,000 civilians have sought refuge but face immense struggles trying to escape the reported RSF bombings and artillery shelling still raining down on the city.



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