Top British officials in Sudan inspecting cash aid project

Two senior British officials are visiting the Sudanese capital Khartoum and the western Darfur region on a three-day tour, led by the Permanent Undersecretary of the UK’s Foreign Office, Simon McDonald.

The officials who arrived early Monday were received in Khartoum by the Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Abdul Ghani Al-Naiem before heading to Nyala in response to an invitation by the Governor of South Darfur Adam Al-Fakki, according to state-run media.

The delegation is inspecting British-sponsored projects in Darfur, in particular a World Food Programme effort to replace food aid with cash handouts.

The British Embassy in Khartoum confirmed the visit in an Arabic statement on their website saying that McDonald was accompanied by Mark Lowcock, head of the British aid agency DFID, and officials from the embassy.

The two senior officials met with the head of WFP’s South Darfur office and the head of the Commission for Humanitarian Aid Jamal Yousif. They also inspected Otash refugee camp. At the camp McDonald and Lowcock listened to feedback from community elders and camp officials on the new program.

The embassy says the aid program allows Sudanese aid recipients to receive money instead of a WFP food voucher and thereby empowers them to choose how to spend to meet their own needs.

Sudan’s Foreign Ministry says that the British officials were also expected to meet Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour.