Women with their malnourished children on May 31, 2017, wait outside a nutrition centre run by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Panthau, Northern Bahr al Ghazal, South Sudan. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)
KHARTOUM, June 18 (Xinhua) -- With the beginning of the rainy season and accompanying difficulties caused by unpaved roads, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) is racing with time to deliver food aid via Sudanese humanitarian corridors to thousands of people affected by war and famine in South Sudan.
The WFP is using three humanitarian corridors opened by the Sudanese government to send food to the people of South Sudan facing the risk of famine.
"The rainy season constitutes the major challenge for us," Lemma Bayissa, WFP director in Sudan's North Kordofan State, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview on Sunday.
"That is why we are speeding up, day and night. The rainy season comes with other issues such as road conditions, besides that trucks sometimes take more than their capacity and technical problems might be there in the area," he noted.
"During this time the challenge is represented in fewer trucks, sometimes fewer commercials and less inaccessibility because of the rainy season to areas such as West Kordofan, South Kordofan and other target areas," the director added.
He further explained that WFP resorts to "prepositioning process" before the rainy season begins to secure food supplies at the target areas.
"Before the rainy season we are sending the food to areas like South Kordofan, i.e we pump the food before the rainy season. We are doing the same thing in areas like South Kordofan, like Kharasan and Al Meram," Bayissa said.
He reiterated that there was enough amount of food at the WFP warehouses in EL Obied, the capital city of North Kordofan State.
"Two days ago, we added 15, 600 metric tons of food. That means we have food in Kosti; we have food in Port-Sudan. Food is coming," he said.
According to Bayissa, the WFP has so far steered 12 convoys through two Sudanese humanitarian corridors and carried more than 25,000 metric tons of food to the needy in South Sudan.
"For Bentiu corridor, we sent ten convoys, with the total cereals sent reaching 12,000 metric tons," he said.
The UN official also expressed appreciation for the facilities provided by the Sudanese government, which contributed to WFP's success in delivering food to thousands of the needy in South Sudan.
"We really appreciate what the Sudanese government is doing. There is a proper coordination. We have a joint technical committee established at Khartoum level, and a joint technical committee established at El Obied level for which every week, may be sometimes two times, a meeting is going on," he noted.
He added that government security bodies would assist by escorting UN convoys to South Sudan.
Thanks to the memorandum of understanding signed between Sudan and South Sudan in 2014, the WFP has so far transported more than 57,420 tons of food through Sudan's humanitarian corridors to the new-born country.
The WFP is also providing food aid to the South Sudanese refugees who live in Sudan after fleeing the violence and food insecurity in their country.
The UN agency is currently assisting over 250,000 South Sudanese refugees across Sudan, with the majority in the White Nile State.
In 2017, the WFP plans to assist 4.6 million people inside Sudan, including the displaced, refugees, people affected by climate change and host communities.
According to UN statistics, about 1.5 million South Sudanese have fled their country since mid-December 2013, when fighting broke out between supporters of President Salva Kiir Mayardit and defectors loyal to his former deputy Riek Machar.
Earlier, Khartoum opened three humanitarian corridors to deliver humanitarian aid to the citizens of South Sudan at a time when international efforts are increasing to lessen the famine in the new-born state.
The first land corridor extends from El Obied in North Kordofan to Heglig in South Kordofan, and then to Rubkona town in South Sudan's Unity State and Bentiu in Bahr el Ghazal State which is the area most affected by famine.
The second corridor extends from Sudan's White Nile State to the northeastern areas of South Sudan, while the third corridor links El Obeid in Sudan's North Kordofan with Aweil town in South Sudan's Bahr el Ghazal.
These humanitarian corridors help reduce reliance on air operations, which cost six to seven times in moving food by river and road.
In addition to the land corridors, Khartoum has also promised to open a river corridor linking Kosti town in central Sudan with South Sudanese ports.
At least 7.5 million people across South Sudan, almost two thirds of the total population, need humanitarian assistance, according to UN statistics.
South Sudan announced earlier that nearly five million people were at risk of famine which has already hit areas in Unity State and is threatening Bahr el Ghazal State.
The famine is attributed to many reasons including the civil war and collapse of the economy in the new-born state.