UN officials denounce Darfur looting raids
Concluding a visit to the North Darfur capital of El Fasher on Sunday and Monday, officials from the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN children's agency (UNICEF), the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), have denounced the attacks on UN operations that occurred over the last few weeks.
The former United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) headquarters in El Fasher was initially plundered on December 24-25, and was subsequently cleared of much of what was left, in a second round of looting last week. The warehouses of the World Food Programme (WFP) in the North Darfur capital were raided December 29.
Darfur Wali Minni Minawi has pledged to recover all the property looted from both sites.
The visiting UN officials assessed the destruction of the WFP warehouses, and met with local authorities including State and Regional Governors, commanders of the Sudan Police and Armed Forces, and the State Humanitarian Aid Commissioner.
The UN representatives were encouraged to see ongoing recovery of looted food and assets and the commitment by the State and Darfur Governors to investigate “with concrete conclusions, which identify perpetrators and bring them to justice in order to feel the full force of the law”.
‘These acts of violence constitute a direct attack on the most vulnerable people in Sudan, who have unjustly been robbed of food assistance they so desperately need...’
The statement underlines that “these acts of violence constitute a direct attack on the most vulnerable people in Sudan, who have unjustly been robbed of food assistance they so desperately need. The looting forced the WFP to suspend its operations in North Darfur late last year.”
“The government’s commitments and responsibilities to the National Plan of Protection of Civilians must be upheld to ensure unimpeded humanitarian assistance as well as the safe implementation of the peacebuilding and development programmes. said Axel Bisschop, acting Humanitarian Coordinator and UNHCR Representative in Sudan. “Any attacks of this nature must be swiftly investigated and should never happen again.”
The UN statement points out that since November 2021, a significant increase in insecurity across the region has been observed, posing a threat to aid operations and puts already vulnerable communities at risk of not getting the support they need. Without the rule of law, basic levels of government control and credible security forces, it becomes difficult for humanitarian operations to carry out their critical functions, providing food, health, education, and other humanitarian assistance.
The statement concludes: In 2022, there are an estimated 14.3 million people who need humanitarian assistance across Sudan, while nearly one in four people in Sudan are food insecure. The suspension of WFP operations in North Darfur could affect up to two million people this year.
In 2021, aid workers reached over 8.1 million people with some form of assistance in Sudan. A humanitarian response plan has been launched for 2022 aiming to provide humanitarian assistance to 10.9 million vulnerable people at the cost of $1.9 billion.
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