Undersecretary General Jan Egeland told the UN Security Council that operations in 20 countries were either being sabotaged on the ground or undermined by a lack of funds.

Regarding the situation in Darfur, Egeland said: ‘I think it’s not genocide yet and we can prevent it from becoming one.’ He called on the Security Council to introduce a new resolution to protect civilians in armed conflict and prevent smaller crises from becoming ‘full-blown catastrophes’.

Egeland criticised the Khartoum’s actions in Darfur, where two million people are in desperate need as a result of a conflict between rebels and Arab militias, which are allegedly backed by Khartoum. Humanitarian workers had still not been issued visas, and food and equipment was being held up, Egeland said. ‘Some ministers are helping us, but some of their subordinates are sabotaging us.’

Egeland pointed to several factors preventing aid agencies reaching the needy: governments restricting access, a lack of security and a lack of funding in a number of countries, including the Central African Republic, the Palestinian occupied territories and the Democratic Republic of Congo.