The UN World Food Programme warned today that an additional 2 – 2.5 million people in Sudan are expected to slip into hunger in the coming months as a result of the ongoing violence in the country. This would take acute food insecurity in Sudan to record levels, with more than 19 million people affected, two fifths of the population.
The biggest spikes in food insecurity are expected in West Darfur, West Kordofan, Blue Nile, Red Sea and North Darfur states. Meanwhile, the cost of food is soaring all across the country, and the price of basic food items is expected to increase by 25 percent in the next three to six months. If farmers are prevented from accessing their fields and planting key staples between May and July, it will drive food prices even higher.
Insecurity and violence forced WFP to temporarily pause its operations in Sudan, but it has since restarted them and since last week has reached over 35,000 people with lifesaving food. Operations are focused on assisting a total of 384,000 people, including families who have recently fled the conflict, pre-existing refugees and internally displaced people and the vulnerable communities hosting them across Gedaref, Gezira, Kassala and White Nile states.
Additionally, the WFP-managed UN Humanitarian Air Services (UNHAS) is starting regular air connections between Port Sudan and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia facilitating the safe transportation of frontline humanitarians and critical aid.
In the coming months, WFP will scale up its emergency assistance to support 4.9 million vulnerable people in areas where the security situation allows, in addition to preventing and treating moderate acute malnutrition for 600,000 children under five and pregnant and breastfeeding women. Prior to the outbreak of conflict, WFP had a funding gap of more than US$300 million for its life-saving operations, and the needs are expected to rise significantly with the crisis.
Supporting immediate needs in neighbouring countries
The conflict has triggered displacement within and outside Sudan, with people fleeing to neighbouring countries needing basics like shelter, food and water. In Chad, WFP rapidly provided emergency food assistance to new arrivals and has so far reached over 16,000 people. But the response is at risk because of a low level of funding for operations in Chad.
Over 40,000 people have already crossed into South Sudan, where WFP is providing hot meals each day at transit centres as well as nutrition screening for children and pregnant or breastfeeding women. For an already cash-strapped WFP in South Sudan, extra pressure on resources could force WFP to take food and funding from others to support new arrivals.
In Egypt, which is seeing the largest influx of refugees, WFP is working with the Government and the Egyptian Red Crescent (ERC) to provide food assistance to those fleeing the crisis in Sudan. More than 20 metric tons of fortified food items have been delivered to the two entry points and are currently being distributed by the ERC. WFP is coordinating with the Government of Egypt, ERC and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) to start immediate emergency food distribution of ready-to-eat food rations (that do not require cooking facilities and can be used immediately) to displaced families arriving from Sudan.
In the Central African Republic, nearly 9,700 people have crossed the border from Sudan and reached Amdafock in Vakaga prefecture. WFP is responding and plans to assist nearly 25,000 new arrivals expected over the coming days. The Vakaga prefecture is seeing ‘Emergency’ levels of hunger and the increase in food needs with new arrivals from Sudan is putting pressure on the already scarce WFP resources in the country.
WFP remains committed to the people of Sudan and calls on all parties to the conflict to take immediate steps to stop the fighting and facilitate the humanitarian access so that we can scale up our operations in a country with some of the highest rates of food insecurity in the world.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Food Programme (WFP).