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Friday, May 29, 1998 Published at 08:21 GMT 09:21 UK

World: Africa

Sudan raiders massacre villagers

Villagers have little left to survive on after the attacks

"A journey into destruction": Martin Dawes reports from southern Sudan
Hundreds of people are reported to have been killed in southern Sudan, in what one aid agency has described as a systematic policy of slaughter and destruction.

The Sudanese government has been accused of using local militia to carry out massacres of whole villages in the rebel-held province of Bahr-el-Ghazal, where more than half a million people face starvation.

[ image: This woman's sister disappeared in the raids]
This woman's sister disappeared in the raids
BBC correspondent Martin Dawes, one of the first reporters to enter the remote area under attack, said pro-government raiders had burned houses and grain stores.

He said the attackers had made off with livestock and even young women and children. Slaving in this part of the world still goes on.

Whole communities in the area have moved because of the threat of mass starvation.

An international aid effort to try and feeds the hundreds of thousands people affected is being complicated by renewed fighting between government forces and rebels in the region.

Row over media coverage

Aid agency representative Don Redding and journalist Lindsay Hilsum discuss media coverage of crises, on The World Today
Recent coverage of the famine in southern Sudan has triggered a debate between representatives of aid agencies and the media about how such disasters are reported.

Journalists have been accused of exaggerating the crisis and of failing to report its wider context.

There have been countercharges from reporters that aid agencies have been more concerned about the media coverage of the crisis than handling the famine itself.

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