CAIRO — The U.N. food agency said Friday it has received reports of people dying from starvation in Sudan, where raging fighting between rival generals is hampering the distribution of aid and food supplies to those most hungry.
The 10 months of clashes between the Sudanese military, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces, a powerful paramilitary group commanded by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, has decimated vast swaths of the northeastern Africa country.
The conflict erupted last April in the capital, Khartoum, and quickly spread to other areas of the country, after months of simmering tensions between the two forces.
World Food Program said that some 18 million people across Sudan currently face acute hunger, with the most desperate trapped behind the front lines of the conflict.
The hotspots include Khartoum, the western Darfur region, and the provinces of Kordofan and Gezira — areas where roadblocks, taxation demands and security threats endanger supplies.
“Life-saving assistance is not reaching those who need it the most, and we are already receiving reports of people dying of starvation,” said Eddie Rowe, WFP’s director for Sudan.
The United Nations says at least 12,000 people have been killed in the conflict, although local doctors groups say the true toll is far higher. Over 10.7 million people have been displaced, according to the U.N. migration agency.
Dagalo’s paramilitary forces appear to have had the upper hand in the conflict over the past three months, with their fighters advancing to the east and north across Sudan’s central belt. Both sides have been accused of war crimes by rights groups.
Regional partners in Africa have been trying to mediate an end the conflict, along with Saudi Arabia and the United States, which facilitated several rounds of unsuccessful, indirect talks between the warring parties. Burhan and Dagalo are yet to meet in person since the conflict began.