Re: Sudan: famine relief underway

Mon, 27 Aug 1956 16:48:40 +0000

World Homeless Union wrote:
> WORLD Saturday, April 18, 1998
> Huge airlift in Sudan to
> to avert famine threat
> ========================
> By David Orr
> Sudan: People are starting to die from famine in southern Sudan
> and a catastrophe is feared unless enough relief supplies reach
> the stricken areas. International aid agencies say countless
> thousands of people have nothing to eat but leaves, nuts and wild
> berries.
> "The situation is very severe, with a third of the population
> malnourished," says Mr Norman Sheehan of GOAL. "It's the worst
> we've encountered as an agency for a number of years."
> A massive aid effort is now under way. The UN World Food
> Programme (WFP) and non-governmental organisations like GOAL are
> airlifting large consignments of food to remote Bahr el Gazal
> province.
> "People are walking long distances to reach the sites where food
> is delivered," says Mr Sheehan, whose organisation recently
> brought in high-energy foodstuffs and medicines to northern Bahr
> el Gazal. "I met one woman who arrived with a very sick child -
> her other children had died along the way."
> The relief operation is being hampered by the inaccessibility of
> the famine area and by a shortage of aircraft. WFP says the
> government in Khartoum has given flight approval for just one
> Hercules transporter.
> The Hercules is regarded as the key aircraft, as it can lift 16
> tonnes of provisions at a time. WFP fears that only a third of
> needy people will have been reached by the end of this month.
> "We're getting more and more reports about afflicted areas," says
> Ms Brenda Barton of WPF in Nairobi, Kenya. "There are large
> numbers of malnourished kids, with more emerging from the bush
> every day."
> An estimated 350,000 people are believed to be at risk from
> starvation in the south, which has been ravaged by 15 years of
> civil war with government forces from the north. The Sudan
> People's Liberation Army (SPLA), which controls most of the south
> excluding the towns, is fighting for increased autonomy from the
> Arab and Muslim north.
> The Christian and animist south is also resisting the imposition
> of Shari'a or Islamic law by the Islamic-backed military junta in
> Khartoum. Since the conflict restarted in 1983, more than a
> million people are believed to have died from fighting, famine
> and drought.
> "The aid effort is a bit like a sticking plaster," says Mr
> Sheehan, who visited the community of Turalei in Bahr el Gazal.
> "It's the furthest north anyone's been in southern Sudan for
> three years. The area is completely underdeveloped. The people
> have nothing. Without massive distributions of food and seeds,
> things will only get worse."
> Turalei is in the middle of a vast savannah dotted with acacia
> and palm trees. Despite its Irish sounding name, the climate is
> anything but Irish: temperatures on the airstrip where GOAL
> landed were touching 50C.
> This latest disaster has been caused both by natural and manmade
> factors. Bahr el Gazal was badly hit by drought during last
> year's crucial planting season.
> The northern part of the province has also been terrorised by a
> warlord who defected to the government side, then rejoined the
> southern rebels early this year. During his government-sponsored
> reign of terror, warlord Kerubino Bol caused thousands of people
> to flee their homes, cattle to be stolen and crops to be
> destroyed.
> Since his reunion with the SPLA rebels, people have been able to
> return to their communities. But food stocks are non-existent
> and, though the seasonal rains have started in the last week, the
> peasants have no seeds to plant.
> "If people don't plant and have a harvest in August we'll have a
> very dire situation right into next year," Ms Barton says.
> co Copyright: The Irish Times
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