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WFP Aims to Help 400,000 Displaced in South Sudan

An ostrich runs through empty streets and past destroyed buildings, after government forces on Friday retook from rebel forces the provincial capital of Bentiu, in Unity State, South Sudan, Jan. 12, 2014.
The World Food Program this week launched a nearly $58-million operation in South Sudan to provide aid to up to 400-thousand people. The U.N. agency says some of its food stocks in the country have been looted.

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WFP’s spokesman in Juba, George Fominyen, says the agency hopes to expand its operations daily.

“WFP began providing food for displaced people within days of the outbreak of fighting. And we have already assisted at least 100,000 people in South Sudan since the conflict erupted in mid-December. And each day we are increasing the numbers and trying to reach more and more people.”

The number of displaced people in South Sudan is estimated to be around 400,000 and rising.

“While we’ve been working to reach more and more people each day, we still face difficulties accessing some areas. And that is because of big challenges in terms of infrastructure. And the road network is not always the best. This is compounded by the fact that we have insecurity in the country at the moment. Therefore, it’s not easy to access all the people we would want to reach, but we are committed to that to be able to reach more and more people as the days go by,” said Fominyen.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon has condemned the looting of food supplies in South Sudan. Fominyen said it happened in areas where conflict has been among the heaviest.

“We have received reports of looting in a few areas, including our warehouses and some of our offices, particularly, where we’ve heard it in Bor and Bentiu. But it has been difficult to assess the damage or the losses in most places because of insecurity. So far we have confirmed the loss of more than 3,000 metric tons of food. That’s about 10-percent of what we had in country and that’s roughly enough food to feed about 180,000 people for a month,” he said.

The World Food Program has joined other humanitarian agencies in calling on warring parties to allow them safe access to those in need.

As for the nearly $58 million dollar WFP operation, the agency says it needs more donor support to fully fund the emergency effort.