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Sunday, 21 January, 2001, 17:45 GMT
New appeal for drought-hit Sudan
Bahr El-Ghaza
Aid agencies failed to reach tens of thousands in 1998
By Caroline Hawley in Cairo

United Nations officials in Sudan say they urgently need new funds to help avert a humanitarian catastrophe after crop failures caused by a severe drought.

UN appeals
November 2000
Food relief worth $194m
January 2001
$40m for food
$7m for water, healthcare, and education
They say nearly one million people could be at risk of starvation if food aid doesn't reach them over the next three months.

In some areas of Sudan, UN officials say wells have now begun to run dry, and people have started to move in search of food.

The UN has been warning of the effects of the drought for several weeks, but now officials say their latest crop assessments indicate the situation is even worse than they had predicted.

Fearing a flare-up

The UN says it will now need an extra $40m in food aid and $7m for water, healthcare, and education for children who will be displaced because of the drought, in addition to the $194m to pay for relief aid it asked for in November.

SPLA fighters
More fighting could endanger humanitarian work
The worst-hit areas are the provinces of northern Kordofan and northern Darfur, where a senior UN official said tribal conflicts over access to pasture, food and water had already broken out.

The UN is concerned that those conflicts could now cause a flare up in Sudan's long-running civil war, which might endanger its massive humanitarian operation in the south.

In 1998, tens of thousands of people died of hunger in the southern province of Bahr El-Ghazal, because aid agencies could not reach them.

Bahr El-Ghazal remains the focus of UN concerns, and officials say the Khartoum government has this month refused them permission to fly into key areas for their relief effort.

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See also:

08 Jan 01 | Africa
New peace effort for Sudan
06 May 00 | Africa
Analysis: Power struggle in Sudan
09 Nov 00 | Africa
Sudan's 'lost boys' head for US
17 Jan 00 | Africa
Sudan's decades of war
19 Jul 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Sudan
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