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First U.N. food supplies arrive in Sudan's Darfur after months but millions face acute hunger

The U.N. has begun distributing food in Darfur, a war-ravaged province in Sudan, for the first time in months; around 18 million people in Sudan face acute hunger.

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — The United Nations said Friday it has begun distributing food in Sudan’s war-ravaged Darfur province for the first time in months, following two successful cross-border operations, but the population still faces widespread starvation unless more help arrives.

The yearlong war between military and paramilitary forces in Sudan is causing one of the world's worst hunger crises. About a third of the population, or 18 million people, face acute hunger, U.N. aid agencies say. In Darfur province, where some of the worst fighting is underway, the situation is particularly severe.


The U.N.’s World Food Program said two aid convoys crossed the border from Chad in late March, but it had been unable to schedule further deliveries.

"Hunger in Sudan will only increase as the lean season starts in just a few weeks. I fear that we will see unprecedented levels of starvation and malnutrition sweep across Sudan," said the WFP's top envoy to Sudan, Eddie Rowe.

The U.N. warned in March that some 222,000 children could die from malnutrition in the coming months unless aid needs are urgently met. The U.N. appeal for $2.7 billion for Sudan was less than 5% funded as of last month.

The fighting has been particularly vicious in Darfur, with brutal attacks from the Arab-dominated Rapid Support Forces on ethnic African civilians reviving fears of another genocide. In 2003, as many as 300,000 people were killed and 2.7 million were driven from their homes, many by government-backed Arab militias.

The International Criminal Court has said both sides are committing war crimes.

The Sudan war is also spilling into neighboring countries. More than half a million new refugees from Sudan have arrived in Chad, bringing the total population of refugees there to 1.1 million, the U.N. said in March. The arrivals have strained resources among the existing refugee population there.

A U.N. spokesperson told The Associated Press on Friday that aid for all refugees in Chad is set to run out soon.

"We’re just distributing the final aid we have and once that’s finished, as it stands right now, all distributions will stop," the spokesperson said.

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