Tags: Sudan | hunger | Africa | drought

Sudan Hungry Quadruple Since August

Tuesday, 02 February 2010 12:44 PM

KHARTOUM - The number of hungry people in southern Sudan has quadrupled since last August to some 4.3 million because of conflict and drought, the UN emergency food agency said on Tuesday.

Across the country some 11 million people will need food aid this year, the Rome-based World Food Programme said, adding that it has a shortfall of 485 million dollars (350 million euros) in its programme there.

"This spike in the number of hungry people in southern Sudan comes just ahead of the rainy season when roads become blocked and communities are cut off from food assistance," said Leo van der Velden, WFP coordinator in southern Sudan.

He said the agency was preparing 50,000 metric tonnes of grain and oil for millions who would need it when the rains start. The WFP plans to provide aid for two to eight months.

The agency wants to "ensure that families have access to sufficient food before the next harvest is due in October and November," the statement said.

"Internal conflict and incursions from the (Ugandan) Lord’s Resistance Army together with drought have made almost half the population of the south short of food," the statement quotes Southern Sudan Agriculture and Forestry Minister Samson Kwaje as saying.

South Sudan, whose inhabitants are mostly Christian, was devastated during a two-decade civil war with the Muslim north that ended in a power-sharing peace agreement in 2005.

But since then violence among ethnic groups has rocked parts of the south, with a death toll last year surpassing that of Darfur.

In 2009, some 2,500 people were killed and 350,000 forced to flee their homes in southern Sudan, while drought slashed harvests, WFP said.

Clashes between rival ethnic groups in the region erupt frequently, often sparked by disputes over livestock and natural resources. But the violence has increased in ferocity, with more civilians being targeted.

The food shortage in the south will further burden aid groups in the conflict-ridden country, with up to 2.7 million people already relying on assistance in refugee camps in the Darfur region.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

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Tuesday, 02 February 2010 12:44 PM
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