UN Food Aid warehouse looted by Sudanese gunmen

UN Food Aid warehouse looted by Sudanese gunmen
This vast, arid and impoverished region is filled with people carrying guns.

At Darfur in Sudan, gunmen looted a World Food Program warehouse. Around 1900 metric tons of food aid was stored in that warehouse. This incident took place amidst a recent surge of violence in the region.

State news agency SUNA reported that the people residing in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, had reported heavy gunfire near the warehouse, late on Tuesday. After the attack, the local government imposed a night-time curfew on the town. "We heard intense gunfire," local resident Mohamed Salem told AFP.

A World Food Program (WFP) official said the organization was "conducting an audit into what was stolen from the warehouse, which contained some 1900 [metric tons] of food products" intended to be lifesaving supplies for some of the most vulnerable people. "One in three people in Sudan needs humanitarian assistance," said Khardiata Lo N'diaye, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Sudan. "Humanitarian assistance should never be a target."

The Governor of Darfur, Mini Minawi, took to Twitter and condemned this raid as a "barbaric act". He added that the people behind this incident would definitely "face justice".

This vast, arid and impoverished region is filled with people carrying guns. People are still reeling from a conflict that had broken out under the former President Omar al-Bashir in 2003. Thousands of people had lost their lives because of it. The main conflict in Darfur had diminished as a peace deal was struck with the key rebel groups last year. But violence still continues to erupt from time to time.

Since October there has been a rise in conflicts, mostly disputes over land, livestock and access to water and grazing. These led to the death of around 250 people, some of whom were herders and some were farmers. All these violent activities are occurring while Sudan reels from political turbulence in the wake of a coup led by military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on the 25th of October.

This vast, arid and impoverished region is filled with people carrying guns. Unsplash

According to the International Organization for Migration, tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, last week, criticized the looting and the reported violence near a former U.N. logistics base in El Fasher that had been handed over to the local authorities a few days prior to the incident.

A joint U.N. and African Union mission, UNAMID, ended 13 years of peacekeeping operations in December last year, but Guterres said "substantial amounts of equipment and supplies" from the looted base were intended to be used by the Sudanese communities.

According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 14 million Sudanese will be needing humanitarian aid next year, which will be the highest level for a decade. (VOA/SP)

(Keywords : Sudan, warehouse, gunmen, food aid, Darfur, El Fasher, world, violence, government, curfew, United Nations, humanitarian, people, conflict, rebel, dispute, death, political, military, coup, force, flee, looting, supplies.)

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