UN food agency halts work in North Darfur, affects 2 million

Food distribution in Sudan, where river barges are used by the World Food Programme to cut the cost of delivering food. Photo by: WFP / Gabriela Vivacqua

The World Food Program has suspended its operations across Sudan’s province of North Darfur following recent attacks on its warehouses, a decision expected to affect about 2 million local people.

A statement released by the UN food agency said all three of its warehouses in the area were attacked and looted. More than 5,000 metric tons of food apparently were stolen, the group said.

Earlier in the week, the WFP said an unidentified armed group had attacked one of its warehouses in North Darfur’s provincial capital of el-Fasher. In response, local authorities imposed a curfew across the province.

However, the attacks continued until early Thursday, said the statement. Hundreds of looters have also dismantled warehouse structures, WFP added.

“This theft has robbed nearly two million people of the food and nutrition support they so desperately need,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley.

“Not only is this a tremendous setback to our operations across the country, but it endangers our staff and jeopardizes our ability to meet the needs of the most vulnerable families.”