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WFP Scales Sudan Aid as Conflict Continues, Hunger Rises

FILE - A Sudanese evacuee carries her son as they disembark from the USNS Brunswick at Jeddah port, Saudi Arabia, May 4, 2023.

GENEVA — The United Nations' World Food Program says it is scaling up food aid to support 5.9 million people across Sudan over the next six months as hunger rises in the war-torn country.

WFP reports it has provided emergency food assistance and nutritional support to nearly one million people in 14 of 18 Sudan states since the aid agency resumed its life-saving operations on May 3.

Speaking from Port Sudan, WFP’s acting country director for Sudan, Abdirahman Meygag, warned an estimated two to 2.5 million Sudanese are expected to slip into hunger in the coming months due to the ongoing violence.

Meygag said the security situation makes it very challenging to provide aid to this desperately needy population, adding, WFP assistance, assets and premises have been repeatedly attacked and looted, hampering efforts to reach vulnerable families in dire need of assistance.

"Over 40,000 tons of food have been stolen or looted. That is around one-third of the total stocks WFP had in the country before the conflict. The total value of losses so far is standing at over $89 million," Meygag said.

The Federal Ministry of Health reports more than 1,000 people have been killed and over 11,700 injured since fighting between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Defense Forces erupted April 15.

The World Health Organization reports approximately one-third of Sudan’s population of more than 45.6 million people already was facing hunger before the fighting began.

WHO spokeswoman Carla Drysdale warned the risk of worsening malnutrition is imminent because growing numbers of people are not able to access or afford to buy food in local markets.

"Four million children and pregnant and breastfeeding women are acutely malnourished. More than 100,000 under-five children with severe acute malnutrition with medical complications are in need of specialized care at stabilization centers," Drysdale said.

She added an estimated 50,000 severely acutely malnourished children need ongoing, round-the-clock care.

The WFP says it is very concerned that the ongoing conflict could undermine the current planting season. It notes insecurity and soaring prices of fertilizer and seeds could lead to a below-average harvest in September — were that to happen, it says acute food insecurity in Sudan could rise to record levels.