Khartoum, Sudan – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director, David Beasley, accompanied by teams from WFP’s Sudan and South Sudan operations and leaders of the UN country team in Sudan have achieved a significant breakthrough in humanitarian access, by landing in Yabus, a town in the Southern Blue Nile State where they witnessed a food distribution to its war and flood-stricken residents for the first time in nearly a decade.
The UN team included the United Nations Children’s Fund, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, World Health Organisation, United Nations Population Fund and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from Sudan.
Parts of southern Blue Nile State have been inaccessible to UN agencies and most humanitarian groups since conflict began there and in the Nuba mountains of South Kordofan in May 2011.
In October, Beasley used his good offices to support a humanitarian confidence-building visit to Kauda in South Kordofan – the first UN visit to the area in nearly a decade. This followed months of negotiations with the new Government of Sudan, leaders of South Sudan and the Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) leader, Abdulaziz Al-Hilu. Following this visit, commitments were made to enable humanitarian access to the conflict-affected areas of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
“This is a new day in a new Sudan and a government that recognizes the value and the dignity of the Sudanese people wherever they live and whoever they are,” said David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme. “We will be doing assessments in all the areas that need assistance over the next few months to help everyone who needs this help at this critical time.”
The first UN humanitarian assistance in the area in nearly a decade was distributed by a WFP-led, UN interagency team. The UN team provided food to nearly 10,000 people in Yabus. This was made possible through the work of UN staff from Sudan and cross-border assistance from South Sudan. The United Nations humanitarian agencies in Sudan will move forward together to provide sustained assistance to address food security, health, education and livestock health deficits in the area.
Yabus and some areas in the Blue Nile State were recently affected by floods, pests and diseases resulting in low farm harvests leaving many of its residents short of food.
The support we have received from Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan “Hemeti” Dagalo, Chairman of the Sovereign Council, Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan and Cdr. Abdul Aziz Adam al-Hilu, Chairman and C-in-C of the SPLM/A-N has been extraordinary.
Sudan’s economic crisis is affecting living conditions and pushing more people into poverty. Nearly 9.3 million people – one in four in Sudan – will need humanitarian assistance in 2020. Around 5.8 million people are food-insecure. That number could rise to more than 10 million if wheat and fuel subsidies are removed. The cost of food has more than doubled in the past year.
WFP and its partners are ready to address rising humanitarian needs, while helping strengthen social protection systems to respond to the challenging economic situation and reduce the impact of planned subsidy reforms. WFP supports internally displaced people, refugees, and vulnerable people through a mixture of cash, food and vouchers. More robust social safety nets are needed to cushion them against the impact of macro-economic reforms.
Additional funding is needed to enable WFP to meet the increasing humanitarian needs across Sudan. WFP Sudan faces a funding shortfall of US$29 million for the next six months. This may increase, given the rising humanitarian needs.
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