13 May 2011 – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is resuming operations in two Southern Sudanese states where they were suspended last month after staff came under direct attack from combatants to the widespread fighting in the region.
WFP issued a statement yesterday saying it will renew food distribution in Lakes and Jonglei – ensuring an estimated 240,000 people in those two states receive critical rations this month – after receiving positive assurances from local authorities.
Leo Van der Velden, the head of WFP’s Southern Sudan office, said the agency is “very pleased with the positive response we received from the Southern Sudan Rehabilitation Commission and State Governor [of Lakes], who assured us that no commandeering will be allowed to take place in his state.”
Operations were suspended in Lakes when a truck was seized on 19 April by members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). The truck was later found empty and abandoned in a neighbouring state.
Food distribution had also been suspended in seven of 11 counties in Jonglei after a national staff member for WFP was killed during an ambush on 22 April, but the agency said they have now resumed.
WFP said it remains concerned about the deteriorating security situation in Southern Sudan, less than two months before it becomes formally independent from the rest of Sudan. Hundreds of people have died in clashes between the SPLA and rebel militia groups.
The agency aims to reach 1.5 million people across Southern Sudan this year but said the general instability is hampering its ability to access many areas.