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World Food Program Distributing Food In Sudan's Darfur Region - 2004-05-07


In western Sudan?s Darfur region, the UN World Food Program says it?s distributing thousands of tons of food to those displaced by recent fighting. At least one million people are reported to have fled or been driven from their homes as rebels battled government-backed militias.

A ceasefire signed in early April is allowing some aid agencies to have greater access in Darfur, but roads and logistics are poor. Marcus Prior is a spokesman for the WFP and has just returned from Darfur. From Nairobi, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the extent of the UN agency?s operations.

He says, ?The WFP has been in Darfur since well before the conflict began in February last year. WFP was doing school feeding and other activities in the region. But obviously since the conflict has started to take such a toll, WFP has had to upgrade its operations substantially. Over 10,000 tons (of food) have been distributed in the region since January of this year. We expect between April and December to be required to distribute another 120,000. That?s a monthly amount of about 13,500 tons to the at least one million internally displaced people in the three Darfur states. Now we expect that number to increase substantially beyond one million.?

The rainy season is due to arrive at the end of this month or early June. Asked whether enough supplies can be distributed fore that happens, Mr. Prior says, ?We?re very hopeful that we will. At the moment it is still a struggle to reach all of the internally displaced.?

He says most of those in the camps for internally displaced people are women and children. Some people have refused food aid, fearing it would only be stolen by armed groups.

Click links above to download or listen to interview.

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