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Saturday, Oct. 14, 2006
WFP facing hard challenge in feeding Sudan's starving
By JUN HONGO
Sufficient media coverage and more financial and food aid from Japan is vital to restoring peace in war-plagued Sudan, Kenro Oshidari, World Food Programme regional director for Sudan, said at a lecture Thursday in Tokyo.
Oshidari, who was appointed to the position in May, said that despite agreements in the Darfur region between the government and part of the rebel army, Sudan's political situation has deteriorated.
"Areas where we provided food last year can no longer be reached due to security reasons. Things have gotten worse," Oshidari said.
Since the defective peace agreement was signed in May, scuffles between rebel factions have created a precarious condition in trying to help the 6.1 million people in immediate need of food assistance.
Twelve local volunteer members have been killed in the last four months and aid delivery trucks been repeatedly attacked by bandits.
According to Oshidari, the program may have no choice but to airdrop food, which will cost more than double the expense of ground transportation. But to do this the WFP will need much more assistance from the international community, including Japan, Oshidari said.
In comparison to the United States, which contributes about half of the annual $960 million needed in Sudan for food aid, road repairs and air services, Japan has donated about $30 million since July 2005.
"The tragic situation in Sudan has not been acknowledged by many Japanese because it hasn't received sufficient coverage by the media," Oshidari said, suggesting additional exposure would help the government and the people give the matter consideration.
"As much as it is important to tell the tragic side of the story, I think it would be significant to show how international aid has actually helped the people of Sudan," he added.