Sudanese gunmen have looted a World Food Programme (WFP) warehouse containing some 1,900 tonnes of food aid in Darfur amid a surge of violence in the troubled western region, officials said Wednesday.
Residents of El-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, reported heavy shooting near the warehouse late Tuesday.
“We heard intense gunfire,” Mohamed Salem told AFP.
A WFP official said they were “conducting an audit into what was stolen from the warehouse, which contains some 1,900 tonnes of food products”.
Darfur has seen a spike in conflict since October triggered by disputes over land, livestock and access to water and grazing, with some 250 people reported killed in fighting between herders and farmers in recent months.
Tens of thousands have been forced to flee their homes, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
Sudan is also reeling from political turbulence in the wake of a coup led by military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on October 25.
Last week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned looting and violence near a former UN logistics base in El-Fasher that had been recently handed over to the local authorities.
Over 14 million people, a third of Sudan’s population, will need humanitarian aid next year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the highest level for a decade.
Darfur was ravaged by a civil war that erupted in 2003, pitting ethnic minority rebels who complained of discrimination against the Arab-dominated government.
More than 300,000 people died and 2.5 million were displaced during the conflict, according to the UN.
While the main conflict in Darfur has subsided, with a peace deal struck with key rebel groups last year, the arid region has remained awash with weapons and violence often erupts.
A joint UN and African Union mission, UNAMID, ended 13 years of peacekeeping operations last December.