UN warns of looming food crisis in Blue Nile and S.Kordofan

South Sudan
October 6, 2011 (UN News)

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Wednesday called for urgent action and funding to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Sudan's Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states, where the latest fighting combined with erratic rainfall has doomed next month's harvest.

In a news release FAO said that at least 235,000 people in both states need help given that food availability there is forecast to be "significantly reduced" following renewed fighting between Sudanese Government troops and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N).

Fighting has disrupted the major crop season in these main sorghum producing areas, according to the FAO. In South Kordofan, people fled at the start of the planting season and were unable to sow seeds, while in Blue Nile, fighting erupted later in the season so seeds were planted, but people were forced to abandon their crops. 

"The latest fighting coupled with erratic rainfall means next month's harvest is expected to generally fail," according to a FAO statement.

The shortage of food stocks has already led to a doubling of prices, which are expected to continue to rise steeply. The agency also pointed out that seasonal livestock migration has been disrupted in both states causing large herds to be concentrated in small areas along the border.

"This is causing overcrowding and could lead to outbreaks of livestock disease," said Cristina Amaral, Chief of FAO's Emergency Operations Service. "Tensions between farmers and nomadic herders over water and land access may also be exacerbated."

All international aid agencies have been barred from Blue Nile by the Government of Sudan, so the true scale of the situation there is unknown. Meanwhile, a small FAO team of national staff is currently on the ground in South Kordofan.

Although their office was looted they were able to distribute seeds and tools to 20,000 vulnerable households in the calmer areas.


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