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WFP: Darfur Lacks Cash for Food


The World Food Program says it has received just more than half the $438 million it needs to feed nearly three million displaced people in Sudan's conflict-ridden province of Darfur. The World Food Program says food supplies, other than cereals, are running low.

The World Food Program says displaced families in Darfur rely almost entirely on the food aid it provides. It says any disruption of the food supply could lead to people becoming malnourished and falling ill.

WFP Spokeswoman, Christiane Berthiaume, says it is crucial that the agency pre-position food stocks before the rainy season that begins in July and August.

"And the case is particularly critical in West Darfur where there are large areas that will be cut off by the rain,” she said. “And, the peak, the food aid requirement at the peak of the hunger season in July and August is estimated at just over 11,000 tons of food. So, that means that we need to pre-position 23,000 tons of food for July and August and that is on top of the monthly requirement."

The aid agency, Save The Children, recently conducted a nutritional survey in West Darfur. The results show 6.6 percent of the people surveyed had acute malnutrition.

Ms. Berthiaume says this indicates a clear improvement in the condition of displaced people in Darfur since September, when a nutritional survey by WFP found nearly 22 percent of internally displaced people and children under five were acutely malnourished.

The World Food Program fed an estimated 1.2 million people in January.

She says the agency hopes to reach two million needy people this month. But, she says that may not be possible because of the physical risks as well as a shortage of money.

"If we do not get the contributions that we need, yes, there is a fear that malnutrition rates could go up again,” she added. “It is a very fragile situation. The fact that we have been able to feed these people and that the rates have gone down is a proof that food aid makes a difference. And, if we do not get it, yes, there will be an increase."

Ms. Berthiaume says the outpouring of aid to millions of tsunami-victims in South Asia has had a negative impact on WFP operations in Darfur and elsewhere in Africa. She notes contributions for WFP's Africa operations for 22 million people decreased by 21 percent in January from the previous year.