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Darfur Food Relief Continues Despite Growing Insecurity, Says WFP

Amid growing insecurity in Sudan’s Darfur region humanitarian operations continue. The World Food Program is one of the leading organizations there, helping nearly one and a half million people last month.

Lara Mello is a spokesperson for the WFP. From Khartoum, she gave English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua an update on food distribution efforts. She says, “Well, security remains a great preoccupation for us operating in Darfur. We could say that in parts of Darfur, particularly in west and south Darfur, there’s even a rising tension and we are extremely concerned about that. In terms of our operation, we had in West Kordofan suspended the use of one particular route, which is the main route for the transport of food from central Sudan…This route has now been reopened. But a lot of the transporters are still using the longer route because of security reasons.”

As for food actually getting in the hands of those in need, Ms. Mello says, “In the month of December, we reached a record number of people. We assisted 1.4 million, close to 1.5 million. And at the same time, there were 273,000 who were not assisted because of lack of access due to the lack of security.”

This month (January), the WFP has reached over 900,000 people so far and is not expected to reach the record level of December due to insecurity and logistical problems. The WFP is buying and leasing more trucks in hopes of reaching 2.3 million a month in 2005.