Tue, Jan 11, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Aid organization appeals for funds to help Sudanese

`PROBLEMS OF PEACE' More than 3 million people are in danger of starving to death, the World Food Program said, and the world must help

AFP , NAIROBI

The UN World Food Program (WFP) has appealed for US$302 million for 3.2 million people facing starvation in Sudan this year, without accounting for Darfur, in a statement received by reporters yesterday.

"Some 268,000 metric tonnes of food will be required for war- and drought-affected people primarily in south Sudan," WFP said, a day after Khartoum and the main rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), signed an accord in Kenya to end 21 years of war.

"Many of those requiring food assistance also inhabit the so-called transitional areas [in central Sudan] of Abyei, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, as well as the chronically food insecure Red Sea State and Kassala State in the east," the statement added.

SURVIVAL AT STAKE

"The survival of impoverished families is very much at stake, and we hope the donor community will continue to provide funds to keep thousands of Sudanese alive," WFP Country Director for Sudan Ramiro Lopes da Silva said in the statement.

"Hunger and malnutrition are still a daily reality," he added.

The war in southern Sudan erupted in 1983 when rebels from southern Sudan rose up against Khartoum, citing marginalization and years of underdevelopment.

The conflict and subsequent diseases and famine have claimed at least 1.5 million dead, displaced around 4 million villagers, and ruined infrastructure.

NEW CHALLENGES

"In 2005, food production in the south is expected to be particularly poor, due to late and erratic rains and the failure of seasonal flooding to make up for the arid conditions prevalent in the region. As a result, the harvest is likely to be 46 percent lower than last year," the WFP said.

"Peace brings a whole new set of challenges with it. Many of those who fled their homes during the war have already started returning home, adding pressure to already limited resources available within these communities," Lopes da Silva added.

WFP's appeal does not include the country's western region of Darfur, where 23 months of fighting between the Khartoum government, backed by allied militia and rebels from minority tribes, has claimed around 70,000 people and displaced some 1.6 million others.

"The operation for Darfur is a separate one, we hope to launch its appeal sometime this week. This US$302 million appeal is mainly for eastern and southern Sudan," WFP spokeswoman Laura Melo told reporters in Nairobi.

Last month, the number of people in Darfur under WFP's nutritional care reached 1.5 million people, the agency said.

The African Union on Sunday said that despite a ceasefire signed in April and a security protocol in November last year, violence still rages in the war-torn region, thus complicating the delivery of humanitarian aid.

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