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Sudan: UN agency warns of massive food deficit in southern region

11 January 2010 – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today that Southern Sudan is facing a massive food deficit fuelled by drought and widespread insecurity.

The warning comes as Sudan marks the fifth anniversary of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which ended two decades of conflict between the central government in Khartoum and the southern-based Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.

The 2005 peace deal established a semi-autonomous Government of Southern Sudan, and a referendum on independence is to be held in February 2011. In addition, national elections are scheduled for this April.

Food aid will be key for the region in 2010, noted WFP, which is aiming to feed 4.5 million people this year in Southern Sudan, where drought has pushed cereal prices up and livestock prices down.

In addition, widespread insecurity has displaced families from the places where they had livelihoods. According to WFP, intertribal fighting killed more than 2,500 people last year and displaced over 350,000.

Last June an attack on river boats carrying WFP food in Southern Sudan caused a serious setback to food distributions to displaced people in the region, forcing the agency to resort to airdrops to get the food in.

“With tribal tensions reportedly mounting, there could be similar disruptions to vital food distributions in 2010,” warned the agency, which hopes to feed a total of some 11 million people across the entire country this year.

In a related development, the top UN envoy in Sudan has called on the parties to the CPA to ensure the success of the peace deal in the face of the challenges that have emerged.

“2010, which will be the final full year of the Interim Period of the CPA, will present its challenges, and the responses of the two signatory parties will determine whether or not the CPA is successfully implemented and whether or not the peace will be sustained in Sudan,” Secretary-General’s Special Representative Ashraf Qazi said in a statement issued yesterday.

“Accordingly, an historic responsibility devolves upon the leadership of the signatory parties not to allow any difficulties, any impediments, or any perceptions to stand in the way of achieving durable peace.”

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