U.N. to double food aid in southern Sudanese region

News and Press Release
Originally published
GENEVA, July 22 (Reuters) - The United Nations aims to double the number of people it is feeding in Sudan's southern Bahr el Ghazal region to 520,000 due to shortages and a swelling population, a spokesman said on Friday.

Surveys show the nutritional situation is worsening in the arid region -- one of the poorest places on earth -- just as tens of thousands of people are returning after a peace deal ended a 21-year civil war, the U.N.'s World Food Programme said.

In June the agency distributed food to about 274,000 people in Bahr El Ghazal, but planned to reach "more than 520,000 this month", according to spokesman Simon Pluess.

"In terms of food supplies, the region is one of WFP's greatest concerns in southern Sudan," he told a news briefing.

Bahr El Ghazal has also seen an influx of people uprooted by violence in Sudan's western Darfur region, where rebels took up arms against Khartoum in 2003. Some two million Darfuris have been driven from their homes and tens of thousands killed.

"The onset of the rainy season has made conditions deteriorate rapidly with extreme food insecurity now widespread in the affected areas. Apart from shortage of food, there is also a critical lack of pasture and cattle are dying away," Pluess said, referring to Bahr El Ghazal.

This followed a very poor harvest last year, leading to high prices for basic staples, according to the Rome-based agency.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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