The United Nations says deteriorating security in Sudan's Darfur region is severely hindering humanitarian aid. The World Food Program, WFP, says the number of Darfuri civilians who have been cut off from food aid has nearly doubled since June.
WFP representative Kenro Oshidari says nearly 500,000 Darfuris have been cut off from food aid. He says an increase in banditry and fighting among rebel groups has paralyzed aid operations in the region.
Oshidari says the instability has come at a particularly bad time.
"It is happening during the period of the hunger season, before the harvest," he noted. "This is the season, typically, [when] malnutrition rates rise and disease increases because of the rains. At the same time the World Food Program has over 700 staff in Darfur, and I am very much concerned about the security of our staff. Our convoys of trucks that carry food are under attack in some places."
About 2.5 million Darfuris have been displaced from their homes during the conflict. They are largely dependent upon international humanitarian aid.
The conflict has raged for three years, since an uprising in the region prompted the Sudanese government to arm local militias in order to crush the rebellion.
In May, the Sudanese government and a faction of the rebel Sudanese Liberation Army, led by commander Minni Minnawi, signed a peace accord. But other rebel factions rejected the deal, saying it did not offer enough political power to Darfuris or monetary compensation for victims of the war.
The disagreement has ignited violence as rebels fight one another for control of territory in Darfur. Tens of thousands of civilians are caught in the middle, fleeing attacks and venting their frustration at international aid workers and the African Union force, which is monitoring the Darfur peace deal. In July, eight Sudanese aid workers were killed.
The United States has called for a U.N. force to be deployed in the region, by October 1, but despite international pressure Sudan had continued to refuse calls for U.N. intervention. Earlier this month, the African Union Mission said that it will run out of money by October.
Some 200,000 people are believed to have died since the start of the conflict.