Now that the rainy season has ended in Sudan’s Darfur region, the main obstacle to humanitarian operations is no longer nature. It’s man. Food aid convoys are under increasing risk of attack.
Bettina Lucia is a spokesperson for the UN world food program. From Khartoum, she spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about food distribution following the end of the rainy season.
She says, “It has become easier because of the end of the rainy season to feed the people because the rain made it so difficult for us to reach many people. But we are having increasing problems with security. There have been attacks on aid workers. There has been banditry. There has been looting of aid trucks. And just last week, two aid workers from Save the Children from Great Britain were killed by a landmine.”
She adds, “We’re still getting reports from fleeing people, from the refugees, that there were attacks on their villages. So, we’re getting more and more people who are coming into the various locations where we can help them.”
The WFP is receiving reports of skirmishes between government forces and rebels in Darfur. Ms. Lucia says, “This means that again and again, roads have to be closed. There are areas where our trucks cannot go to. And that means there are people in many parts of the country, of Darfur, where we cannot reach them and that’s a real problem for us.”
The World Food Program was able to feed 1.3 million people in September, but predicts about two million will need food aid by the end of the year. The crisis is expected to continue into next year because no crops are being planted.
As for conditions in camps for displaced people, Ms. Lucia says, “The situation in the camps is stabilizing. But also what you have to see is that there are not only camps, but people are gathering in places that do not have a camp structure… where they are just simply gathering near villages or outside of villages. And there are many areas of Darfur we cannot go because it is simply unsafe.”