Aid agencies report looting, suspend operations in Sudanese state

DUBAI (Reuters) – Two international aid organisations say that their facilities have been looted and they have suspended operations in an area of Sudan where the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) recently advanced in its war with the army.

The halting of operations by the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) and Medical charity MSF in El Gezira risks exacerbating a humanitarian crisis caused by more than eight months of war.

The WFP said it had been forced to pause distributions of aid in El Gezira state where it said a warehouse containing enough stocks to feed 1.5 million people for a month had been looted.

MSF said on Friday that armed men attacked its compound in El Gezira state capital Wad Madani, about 170 km (105 miles) southeast of the capital Khartoum, on Dec. 19, looting two cars and other items.

“Due to the security deterioration, we have suspended all medical activities in Wad Madani and evacuated our staff to safer areas of Sudan and neighbouring countries,” MSF said in a statement posted on social media platform X.

“We are concerned for the people in Wad Madani who have very limited access to healthcare and essential medicines.”

The RSF took over Wad Madani earlier this month, part of wider advances it has been making in the south and west of Sudan.

The city had become an aid hub and a refuge for internally displaced people. El Gezira is an important agricultural region in a country facing worsening hunger.

The capture of Wad Madani caused up to 300,000 people to flee the area, according to the International Organization for Migration.

The war between the army and the RSF erupted in mid-April amid tensions over a planned transition from military to civilian rule.

The two forces had previously shared power following the 2019 overthrow of leader Omar al-Bashir during a popular uprising.

The conflict has devastated the capital, where residents reported heavy artillery fire early on Friday, as well as forcing more than 7 million people to flee their homes and triggering ethnically driven killings in the western region of Darfur.

(Reporting by Jana Choukeir and Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Alistair Bell)