April 27, 2014 (PORT SUDAN) – A US ship loaded with enough food to help feed 4 million vulnerable Sudanese mainly from the troubled Darfur region arrived in Port Sudan on Sunday.
The vessel’s cargo included 47,250 metric tonnes of sorghum, a staple food in Sudan, donated by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is enough to feed 1.7 million people for three months.
The shipment arrived from Texas after a 24-day journey via the Suez Canal.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP), which is currently assisting more than 3 million people in Darfur, including some 300,000 displaced by recent fighting, has welcomed the arrival of the shipment.
Both Christopher Rowan, the US Embassy’s acting chargé d’affaires, and WFP country director Adnan Khan were in Port Sudan for the arrival of the shipment.
Khan welcomed US humanitarian assistance to Sudan, saying the shipment had arrived in time to reach vulnerable people ahead of the impending rainy season.
He told Sudan Tribune that recent clashes between government troops and rebels groups, as well as ongoing tribal fighting, had forced more 300,000 people to flee their villages for displaced camps in the region.
“We are acutely aware of the growing needs created by new displacements in Darfur, the conflict in South Sudan, as well as that in the Central African Republic (CAR),” he said.
The sorghum represents the bulk of the $164 million committed by USAID this year to WFP Sudan.
Of this, $92.5 million was released in July 2013, enabling WFP to respond to a new wave of displacement in Darfur, as well as pre-position food in remote locations in South Kordofan and White Nile states ahead of the rainy season.
In addition to the sorghum, the shipment included 12,510 metric tonnes of yellow split peas and 4,400 metric tonnes of vegetable oil, with the total contribution comprising 43 percent of WFP Sudan’s annual requirements for 2014.
Sudan remains one of WFP’s largest and most complex operations in Africa. This year, the UN agency plans to reach 4.1 million people across Sudan, of whom 3.1 million are in Darfur.
Although Washington has imposed economic and trade sanctions against Sudan since 1997 in response to its alleged connection to terror networks and human rights abuses, the US remains a major aid donor and is the biggest contributor to WFP Sudan.
“Since the early 1960s, the United States has been WFP’s long-standing partner in Sudan. Their continuing support has helped us to provide life-saving food to those affected by conflict, to maintain food security and to build resilience among communities,” said Khan.
“This contribution will enable us to help over 4 million vulnerable people cope with the approaching hunger season,” he added.
A new wave of violence has engulfed parts of Darfur since February, displacing over 300,000 people and ratcheting up needs in the region.
Continuing conflict in neighbouring South Sudan has also forced thousands of displaced people to seek refuge across the border in Sudan, placing further strain on already fragile resources. .
Rowan, meanwhile, said the US remained committed to providing humanitarian assistance to Sudan.
“The people of the United States remain committed to helping people in need in Sudan with life-saving food and other assistance,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
In addition to the food shipment, the US has contributed $4.8 million through USAID’s office of US foreign disaster assistance to help support the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service, which is managed by WFP and provides passenger and small cargo services to the humanitarian community across Sudan.