Curfew has been imposed After gunmen loot a UN food warehouse in North Darfur 

Curfew has been imposed After gunmen loot a UN food warehouse in North Darfur 
WFP in Darfur/courtesy

Unidentified gunmen looted a World Food Programme (WFP) warehouse and facilities used by a former peacekeeping mission in Sudan’s North Darfur state, prompting authorities to impose a night curfew.

The United Nations said in a statement on Wednesday that more than 1,700 tonnes of food meant to feed 730,000 vulnerable people for a month had been stolen the night before from a warehouse in the capital, El Fasher.

According to the state news agency SUNA, residents in the area reported heavy gunfire.

“In Sudan, one out of every three people requires humanitarian assistance. Such an attack jeopardizes UN humanitarian coordinator Khardiata Lo N’diaye’s ability to deliver aid to those who need it most.

“We urge the Sudanese government to step up efforts to protect and safeguard humanitarian facilities and assets across the country,” she said.

Darfur Governor Mini Minawi denounced a “barbaric act” on Twitter, promising that those responsible “will face justice.”

The looting was also condemned by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“Over 1,900 metric tons [1,700 tonnes] of food commodities were looted, which were supposed to feed 730,000 vulnerable people for a month,” Guterres’ spokesperson said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The supplies were given to the Sudanese authorities for civilian use,” said Stephane Dujarric, his spokesperson.

Guterres also urged the Sudanese government to restore order and to make it easier for “remaining United Nations operations in El Fasher” to operate in a “safe working environment and passage.”

Countless people are in desperate need.

UNAMID, a joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission, ended its 13-year mission in December last year, but Guterres said “substantial amounts of equipment and supplies” from the looted base were intended for use by Sudanese communities.

Over the last year, Darfur has seen a sharp increase in violence, with humanitarian workers and analysts blaming the escalation on armed factions jockeying for position following the signing of a peace deal with some rebel groups in late 2020, as well as the return of fighters from neighboring Libya.

Since October, the region has seen a spike in conflict fueled by disagreements over land, livestock, and access to water and grazing, with about 250 people killed in clashes between herders and farmers.

According to the International Organization for Migration, tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes (IOM).

The violence took place as Sudan was reeling from political turmoil following a coup led by military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on October 25.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 14 million Sudanese will require humanitarian assistance next year, the highest number in a decade.

Many of the displaced were forced to flee their homes when the military and allied militias moved into Darfur in 2003 to put down an armed operation that resulted in the deaths of an estimated 300,000 people.

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