Sudan: Lack of food delays progress on IDP trek

A group of 5,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) trekking to their homes in southern Sudan, are within 70 kms of their final destination but a lack of food is hampering their progress.

The group has been on the road for more than three months since they left their camp in Mabia, Western Equatoria Province to return to their homes in Sudan's southwestern province of Western Bahr el Ghazal. Their journey home through dense forests and swamps in order to avoid a more direct, but mined route, has been particularly demanding. The difficult terrain has already delayed their progress by several weeks.

The delay has meant that for many, food supplies ran out a week ago.

"The group's administration no longer has food reserves and people are now sharing what they have with each other and foraging what they can from the forest," said Bill Lorenz, one of four IOM staff accompanying the group to transport on trucks those who can't walk.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has been trying to organize an air food drop but has been unable to get its food monitors on the ground so far. It is possible that an airdrop could take place tomorrow.

A large part of the IDPs are now at a camp in Rede, about 70kms from Deim Zubeir, where they will wait until the food drop happens. The remainder are stretched out over 30 kms behind them and are slowly making their way to the camp.

Lorenz now expects little movement forward until early next week and the arrival of the first group at Deim Zubeir unlikely before the end of July.

This emergency rescue operation is being carried out in close coordination with WFP, UNICEF, MSF Spain, and World Vision International and at the request of the UN's Deputy Resident Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan.

For further information, please contact Bill LorenzTel: + 882 1651 105 796