WFP defends flying Sudan rebel leader on UN helicopter

A WFP helicopter in Sudan. Photo: WFP/Ala Kheir

ROME --A flight carrying the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (North), Abdulaziz Al-Hilu, was expressly authorized by the WFP Executive Director, David Beasley, to facilitate negotiations for humanitarian access to two areas of Sudan  - in Blue Nile State and South Kordofan - that have been cut off from aid since 2011, WFP said Thursday.

Responding to criticism over allowing Al-Hilu to board a WFP chopper, WFP told the Insider that “the flight was approved under exceptional circumstances to help solve a pressing and urgent humanitarian crisis where the lives and livelihoods of civilians living in the inaccessible areas were under threat. “

“As a result of these negotiations, a historic agreement was reached to open the way for humanitarian access that would allow international humanitarian agencies – including WFP – to respond to needs in these areas for the first time in nearly 10 years,” the WFP said.