The UN food agency will start air drops of food over parts of southern Sudan that could be in a “pre-famine” stage, it said.
The World Food Programme (WFP) aims to provide 22 000 tonnes of food to 300 000 additional people facing severe food shortages by year-end, half of it by air drops, its top official in Sudan, Kenro Oshidari, said.
In all, 1.3 million people in southern Sudan now need food assistance, mainly subsistence farmers suffering from a lack of rain, high food prices and low prices for their cattle, he said.
“We are now planning to launch air drops to some of these areas,” Oshidari told reporters by telephone from Khartoum.
Air drops are more expensive to carry out as they involve larger planes than air lifts in which the aircraft lands and is unloaded but are now required as some areas are cut off due to poor road conditions and insecurity, he said.
In June, at least 40 south Sudanese soldiers and civilians were killed when tribal fighters ambushed boats carrying WFP food to the town of Akobo in Jonglei state.
Ethnic attacks have continued and threaten a fragile 2005 peace deal between the south and Khartoum, Reuters reports.
Oshidari, asked whether conditions could be described as famine, replied: “In places like Akobo which are cut off from commercial supplies of food, there is a desperate need for us to bring in food.
“There could be a pre-famine situation in very specific areas but generally speaking, we shouldn’t use the term famine.”
Pic: Poverty in Africa