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Violence Threatens Darfur November Harvest

The International Committee of the Red Cross is warning that rising violence is threatening food security in Sudan’s Darfur region. It says next month’s important harvest may be affected by fighting between rebels and government forces, banditry and violence over cattle looting and access to grazing lands. The main crops in Darfur include maize, millet and okra.

Paul Conneally is a spokesman for the ICRC. From Khartoum, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the coming harvest.

He says, “Traditional harvest time in Darfur is in November. And for a number of months leading up to this crucial time the ICRC has been supporting rural communities with agricultural seeds and tools and even training in order to boost agricultural production and decrease the dependency on food aid. Now, unfortunately, from about mid-September in Darfur up until the current day, there has been a noticeable increase in armed confrontations as well as banditry, which has caused further displacement of the population, particularly in rural areas. And of course they would be the people very much engaged in farming and agricultural production.”

The UNHCR spokesman adds, “What we are very concerned about at the moment is that these clashes, this increased violence, will affect the agricultural output and the food production and food security in Darfur. This remains to be seen yet, however, and we’re currently assessing it in the affected regions and expect some more accurate data in early November.”