Thousands of tonnes of aid looted from UN World Food Programme warehouses in Sudan

At least 10 vehicles and six lorries that transport food have been stolen since the outbreak of hostilities

Sudanese refugees queue to receive WFP food supplements near the border between Sudan and Chad in Adre, Chad. Reuters
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More than 4,000 tonnes of food have been looted from the World Food Programme’s warehouses in Sudan.

The UN organisation was forced to halt operations two weeks ago after three of its employees were killed in clashes between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

On Friday, Brenda Kariuki of the WFP said its work was suspended but the organisation had not abandoned the people of Sudan and would resume operations as soon as it was safe to do so.

She told a briefing in Geneva on Friday: “To date we know up to 4,000 metric tonnes of food meant for vulnerable people has been looted from our warehouses and at least 10 vehicles and six trucks which transport food have been stolen.

“This is unacceptable and it takes away humanitarian aid meant for the most vulnerable Sudanese and refugees who desperately need this life-saving assistance.

“With our air operations also grounded we are seeing the entire Mediterranean communities movement severely disrupted and therefore any possibility to reach more communities we serve is difficult.

“This conflict also leaves a scar in the hearts and minds of the people of Sudan and is going to push millions more into hunger.”

She said although the crisis had forced it to halt work, WFP teams remain in the country.

“This decision does not mean we are abandoning the people of Sudan.

“We are committed to resuming operations as soon as the country and security situation allow. The safety and security of our staff at this moment is a priority.”

But the effect of the suspension on WFP’s work was serious, she said.

The organisation had planned to assist 7.6 million people in the country this year, including “hundreds of thousands of refugees” who were sheltering in Sudan, as well as schoolchildren, malnourished infants and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

“In a country the size of Spain over a third of its population is already struggling to put food on the table every day,” Ms Kariuki said.

“The consequences of this crisis could be long term and the cost of a food basket has already risen by up to 28 per cent across South Sudan in states bordering Sudan.

“This will only push further people into hunger and increase the needs in Sudan and in South Sudan.

“We have a leadership team that is based [in] Port Sudan at the moment, where the staff will continue to monitor the situation and oversee operations going forward, while also preparing for assumption of humanitarian operations in the country, alongside other partners in the humanitarian community,” Ms Kariuki added.

Updated: April 28, 2023, 12:03 PM