WFP chief fears worst after relief exodus in Sudan

Humanitarian agencies are pulling out of Sudan as fighting between armed forces and a paramilitary group escalates to untold levels. Speaking to NHK, the head of the United Nations World Food Programme fears the exodus leaves millions of impoverished people more vulnerable than ever.

"Sudan is on fire," said the WFP's Executive Director Cindy McCain on Monday in Tokyo. "I mean everyone... The people are not going to get any food."

WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain is in Japan for a meeting of the G7's agricultural ministers.

The WFP has been delivering critical aid and cash assistance to the African country, including school meals and support for farmers.

But all those operations have been on pause ever since three Sudanese employees were killed.

"I'm hoping we can get back to work in there soon," says McCain. "But the safety of our people is imperative."

WFP officials say the fighting, which escalated earlier this month, has also damaged a warehouse. To make matters worse, looters took off with as much as 4,000 tons of food.

The officials say the unrest in Sudan could stop them from providing support for 7.6 million people this year alone.

UNICEF reportedly leaves capital

Other agencies are facing similar trouble. Recent footage shows more than 10 UNICEF cars and buses leaving the capital Khartoum. The convoy was reportedly heading to Port Sudan, a city on the Red Sea about 700 kilometers away.

The hunger crisis in the African nation was already one of the world's worst. Nearly 16 million people, or one third of the population, face food insecurity.

McCain fears the surge in violence is only compounding their desperation.

"Until it's safe again, of course many organizations won't return," she says. "And that only hurts the women and children who need help the most."