The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is appealing for $6.5 million to provide life-saving airlifts of food to refugees in South Sudan. The WFP relies entirely on voluntary donations from governments and the public.
The WFP wants to air drop 2,000 metric tons of food into Maban County to ensure civilians fleeing fighting in Sudan's Blue Nile State have enough food to survive. These refugees have fled to the Upper Nile State in South Sudan to escape the violence and find aid.
Chris Nikoi, WFP director in South Sudan, explained that the "WFP is pulling out all the stops to keep providing desperately needed food to refugees in Upper Nile State. People in camps have told me how they arrived weak and hungry after weeks of trekking and foraging in the forest before crossing the border. Our food assistance has been a lifeline to more than 100,000 refugees in Maban County, but continuing that life-saving support will require some extraordinary measures given the size of the refugee influx into an area with limited infrastructure.”
The WFP also plans to air drop 3,000 metric tons of food to the Yida refugee camps in Upper Nile State where the number of refugees fast increasing. Malnutrition rates, particularly among children, are alarming according to the WFP and other aid groups.
Airlifts of food are necessary because of the poor roads in South Sudan, many of which become impassable when rain hits. And food that was pre-positioned in crisis areas by the WFP was insufficient because of the fast increasing numbers of refugees.
Challiss McDonough, a WFP public information officer for Eastern, Central and Southern Africa, says "we do hope that the donors will recognise the importance and urgency of this situation". The WFP needs funds to provide the airlifts and also maintain a steady flow of food supplies. The longer the conflict continues between South Sudan and Sudan the more food aid will be needed to save lives.
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