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Ongoing fighting threatens to exacerbate food insecurity in Sudan, says UN official

Noting that conflict is the main driver of this hunger crisis, Yang Hongjie, representative in Sudan of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, explained that nine out of ten people facing acute food insecurity are in conflict hotspots.

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Volunteers cook food for free distribution in Omdurman, Sudan, Feb. 5, 2024. Sudan has been witnessing deadly clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces since April 15, 2023.

Ongoing fighting in Sudan threatens to exacerbate food insecurity across the country, a United Nations (UN) official has said, calling for urgent agricultural support to Sudan.

“The scale and severity of hunger across Sudan is deeply concerning,” Yang Hongjie, representative in Sudan of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

“Approximately 17.7 million people have experienced high levels of acute food insecurity between October 2023 and February 2024, the highest number ever recorded during a harvest season,” he said.

Noting that conflict is the main driver of this hunger crisis, the UN official explained that nine out of ten people facing acute food insecurity are in conflict hotspots, namely in the Darfur and Kordofan regions, as well as the states of Khartoum and Gezira.

The spread to and escalation of fighting in Gezira state, the breadbasket of Sudan, poses a significant threat to national food production, given that the state accounts for about 50 percent of wheat production and 10 percent of sorghum production, Yang said.

Describing the outlook for food production in 2024 in the country as “bleak,” he said that the FAO and its partners have been spearheading multi-sectoral famine prevention efforts at the country level.

“Scaling up life-saving food or cash assistance to populations facing acute and severe food shortages is critical but is not sufficient to meet the gaps created by lack of local food production,” he said.

The FAO’s emergency plan for Sudan in 2024 is budgeted at 104 million U.S. dollars, said Yang, adding that the plan is currently less than 10 percent funded.

He said that the production of sorghum, millet and wheat in 2023 was estimated at about 4.1 million tons, down 46 percent from the previous year.

The FAO prioritizes integrated response approaches to enable the local food production of key staple cereals, provision of livestock and fishery supplies, and veterinary services and vaccinations, aiming to pave the way for recovery, he said.

Xinhua News Agency

Founded in 1931, Xinhua News Agency is one of the largest news organizations in the world, with over 10,000 employees across the globe. As the main source of news and information for China, Xinhua plays a key role in shaping the country's media landscape and communicating its perspectives to the world. The agency produces a wide range of content, including text news articles, photos, videos, and social media posts, in both Chinese and English, and its reports are widely used by media organizations around the world. Xinhua also operates several international bureaus, including in key capitals like Washington, D.C., Moscow, and London, to provide in-depth coverage of global events.

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