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New donations boost UN food aid in Sudan but more contributions still

Food rations that were recently reduced by half for more than 3 million people in Sudan will be increased to 84 per cent of minimum daily requirements from June to September in the war-torn Darfur region thanks to new donations to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) emergency operation, but more aid is still urgently needed.“We greatly appreciate the donations received so far, which provide an urgent boost to people’s daily diet,” WFP Executive Director James Morris said according to the Agency’s latest update. “However, continued contributions, preferably in cash, are still crucial to help address urgent needs in the months ahead.” At the beginning of May, the United States announced it would divert to Sudan food aid shipments valued at $46.2 million. Other donors, including Canada, the European Commission, Australia, Germany and Denmark, have also offered funds and pledges which, together with an announced Sudanese contribution of cereal, will enable WFP to raise the number of kilocalories per person per day in Darfur to 1,770 (the minimum daily requirement is 2,100 kilocalories). The Sudan Government’s donation of 20,000 metric tonnes of cereals will allow WFP to distribute a full ration of cereals for the next three months in Darfur, where fighting between the Government, pro-government militias and rebels has killed scores of thousands of people in Darfur and uprooted 2 million more in the last three years.For about 370, 000 people in the East and Central areas, rations remain at 64 per cent of the required minimum energy content. “We are now in a race against time to deliver more food both to the people of Sudan and to people in Darfur, as the onset of the rainy season in June makes roads inaccessible,” Mr. Morris said. “The average time it takes for pledges to arrive as food aid in the country is four to six months.”The earliest WFP could hope to restore complete rations across Sudan is October, but this still depends on the flow of contributions.A critical shortage of donor funds forced WFP to announce in April – and distribute in May – half rations in Darfur and the East of Sudan, a decision which Mr. Morris described as one of the hardest he had ever made. WFP has been warning since November 2005 that it would need significant donations, $600 million by May, to guarantee a continued flow of food aid to more than 6.1 million hungry people in Sudan. But five months into 2006, WFP’s emergency operation is only 42.6 percent funded. So the agency needs donors to provide contributions now to cover requirements for the last quarter of the year. “The world has a deep obligation to do its utmost to assist the people of Sudan, many of whom have already suffered immense trauma as a result of brutal conflict,” Mr. Morris said. read more