The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has suspended operations across North Darfur in Sudan, following the looting of three of its warehouses in the state capital El Fasher, which began on Wednesday night and continued until Thursday morning. WFP Executive Director David Beasley has expressed “outrage at the senseless attacks”. The WFP says the suspension could affect close to two million people in the area in 2022.
In a press statement from its headquarters in Rome yesterday, the WFP says that “more than 5,000 tonnes of food appear to have been taken, with hundreds of looters also dismantling warehouse structures”.
WFP Executive Director David Beasley: “WFP is outraged by these senseless attacks and condemns the continued looting of assistance and the destruction of its assets in the strongest possible terms. As a result, we have been forced to suspend WFP operations in North Darfur, effective immediately."
‘This theft has robbed nearly two million people of the food and nutrition support they so desperately need’ – WFP Executive Director David Beasley
“This theft has robbed nearly two million people of the food and nutrition support they so desperately need. Not only is this a tremendous setback to our operations across the country, but it endangers our staff and jeopardises our ability to meet the needs of the most vulnerable families.”
In its statement, the WFP calls on the government of Sudan to urgently provide adequate security, to recover the looted stocks, and to provide guarantees so that WFP can safely resume its operations in North Darfur.
The losses in El Fasher cannot be replenished with stocks currently in Sudan without compromising assistance meant for vulnerable people in other parts of the country, WFP explains, pointing out that a total of 10.9 million people in Sudan need food security and livelihood assistance in 2022.
The looting, which began on Tuesday evening, was reportedly initiated by armed men using six four-wheel drive vehicles, after which members of the public joined the free-for-all.
A number of suspects accused of plundering the warehouses have been arrested. They were seized while loading large quantities of food on pick-up trucks and other vehicles, Brig Saad Mustafa, Director of the North Darfur Police Criminal Department said in a press statement yesterday.
The State of Emergency, including a 18:00-05:00 curfew, imposed by the North Darfur authorities on Wednesday morning, was ignored by the looters. On Wednesday evening and night, two other WFP warehouses, containing a variety of foodstuffs, the stores of the Ministry of Education (for school feeding), and the Agricultural Bank stores filled with corn were plundered as well.