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Tuesday, July 7, 1998 Published at 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK

World: Africa

Sudan's deadly hunger

This boy's parents have already died from hunger

The famine in Sudan is worsening amid warnings that the country is in the grip of an overwhelming crisis.

According to aid agencies:

  • 2.6 million are now in need of emergency aid.
  • Sixty per cent, in some areas, have malnutrition.
  • cash aid needs to be doubled.

BBC Correspondent Ben Brown: "The day ... will be their last."
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has said it has only half the money it needs to provide aid.

According to reports it is only able to deliver about half the 10,000 tonnes of food needed each month.

Pledges have been made for $60m - but they calculate that $140m is needed.

Death everywhere

[ image:  ]
The hardest hit area is the Bahr el-Ghazal region in southern Sudan.

The BBC Special Correspondent, Ben Brown, said people were suffering from the twin curse of drought and a long-running civil war.

He visited an aid centre in the area which was overwhelmed and unable to cope with the demands for food and treatment.

[ image: Some starving people have to be carried to the aid centre.]
Some starving people have to be carried to the aid centre.
People, including those with disabilities, struggled miles to reach the centre.

Fights broke out because of the limited resources. According to the correspondent, people were dying all around and the situation was an "overwhelming crisis".

Sudan historian Jok Madjutjok told the correspondent: "This is the worst I've ever seen."

Figures rising

[ image: Aid workers rushed this child straight to treatment ...]
Aid workers rushed this child straight to treatment ...
Two months ago, WFP reported that 350,000 people were at risk of starvation in Sudan.

It now says that 2.6 million people in Sudan are in need of emergency food aid, particularly in the south, where malnutrition rates have increased to 60%.

The Pope's administrator for the area, Monsignor Caesar Mazzolari, Apostolic Administrator of Rumbek, has recently been on a visit to the area.

[ image: ... but they are too late. She is buried immediately, wrapped in a food aid bag.]
... but they are too late. She is buried immediately, wrapped in a food aid bag.
At the weekend he said in a statement that the food distributed by the WFP aid agencies and the churches is far from being enough.

He added: "The famine is now hitting hard the children, the disabled, the elderly and the lepers - those who have most difficulty in reaching the food distribution centres.

"I witnessed dramatic cases of starving mothers with their children collapsing on an airstrip after walking all night - and finding that the food distribution had ended."

Monsignor Mazzalori said the situation had not been helped by continued conflict between the Sudan Government and guerilla rebels fighting for independence.

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