Aid has reached only 3% of stricken people in Khartoum, World Food Programme says

Sudanese capital said to be more inaccessible than Deir Ezzor, Syria in 2017

Sudanese refugees wait to receive a WFP food portion in Koufroun, Chad. Reuters
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As fighting between Sudan's paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the army enters a second month, the World Food Programme says aid has reached only 3 per cent of people in need in Khartoum.

Abdel Mageed Yahia, WFP UAE Director and Representative for the GCC told The National that a lack of access in Sudan was “unprecedented” in comparison to other war zones in the region.

“We had planned to reach 500,000 people but we managed to reach only 15,000 so far in Khartoum,” he said.

Three WFP staff members were killed and two injured when the war broke out on April 15, prompting the group to suspend its work in the Darfur region of Sudan for two weeks.

The WFP says it has assisted more than 780,000 people so far with emergency food in 13 of the country's 18 states since operations resumed on May 3.

“At least when ISIS had completely besieged Syria's Deir Ezzor in 2017, we were able to perform high altitude air drops”, which is not possible in Khartoum today, he said.

Numerous ceasefires have been repeatedly breached “from the moment they were signed”, Mr Yahia said.

“The needs are continuously increasing,” he added.

Humanitarian corridors agreed on by the warring parties through a US and Saudi-brokered ceasefire provided the only opportunity for what little aid has arrived, Mr Yahia said.

He said the security situation in Sudan was to blame. “Some neighbourhoods show no signs of life,” he said. Millions have fled their homes and become internally displaced or have sought safety in Chad, Egypt and the Central African Republic.

Additionally, WFP warehouses have been looted on more than one occasion.

“In total, we lost $60 million worth of food, vehicles and assets, excluding last week in Al Obaid,” Mr Yahia said. “Around 17,600 metric tonnes were taken in the first looting. Now what's being looted is 22,000 metric tonnes and we don't know the value of that because we don't have access.”

He said it was difficult to ascertain the groups responsible for the thefts.

The food taken in the first round of looting was enough to feed 4.4 million people for a month.

“Two weeks ago, they broke into our offices in Khartoum and they took vehicles and office supplies,” Mr Yahia said.

He said soaring food prices and the fact that banks aren't operating had exacerbated the situation for people who were bound to reach a point where finding food is difficult.

“It's also a matter of time before fuel runs out,” he added.

Mr Yahia revealed that local neighbourhood groups are helping to distribute the WFP aid.

“They are going from door-to-door at times, even cooking in one home and distributing those meals to others in need,” he said.

“Up to 2.5 million additional people in Sudan are expected to slip into hunger in the coming months because of the ongoing violence in the country,” the WFP said.

“The rise will see over 40 per cent of Sudan’s population – more than 19 million people – facing hunger. This is the highest number ever recorded in the country.”

At least 700 people have been killed so far and more than 5,420 injured in the conflict, Sudan's Ministry of Health said.

Updated: June 08, 2023, 5:11 AM