After reports that food supplies were looted in parts of the country, the United Nations has urged warring factions in Sudan to open a humanitarian corridor for aid to be transported.
Martin Griffiths, UN chief for humanitarian affairs, said on Wednesday that six trucks belonging to the World Food Program were looted in Sudan’s western region of Darfur, despite assurances of safety and security.
UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said in 17,000 metric tons of food had been looted in places including the capital, Khartoum, and Darfur out of a total 80,00 metric tons of food aid that the agency has in Sudan.
“It’s not as if we’re asking for the moon,” Griffiths said in an online briefing. “We’re asking for the movement of humanitarian supplies and people. We do this in every other country, even without cease-fires.”
He has called for face-to-face meetings with Sudan’s army leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, commonly known as Hemedti, who heads the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary.
Even before the conflict broke out, a third of Sudan’s 45 million people relied on humanitarian assistance, the UN said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that the organization “was taken by surprise” by the conflict.
“To the extent that we and many others were not expecting this to happen, we can say we failed to avoid it to happen,” Guterres told reporters in Kenya.
“A country like Sudan, that has suffered so much… cannot afford a struggle for power between two people.”
Gunshots rang out in Sudan’s capital Khartoum as the battle between the rival factions, the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, continue.
Fierce fighting continues despite a weeklong cease-fire that was struck earlier week. Previous cease-fires have failed.
Battles were also reported in the adjoining cities of Omdurman and Bahri.
More than 430 Nigerian nationals have been evacuated to Nigeria’s capital Abuja late on Wednesday after days of logistical delays left them stranded at the Sudan-Egypt border.
Many returnees arrived at the airport in Abuja looking fatigued and with few personal belongings.
“They have gone through a very traumatizing period, but we are glad no life was lost,” said Sadiya Umar Farouq, Nigeria’s Minister of Humanitarian Affairs.
She said some 2,000 Nigerians remain in Sudan, and more will be evacuated in the coming days.