Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Thursday, October 1, 1998 Published at 21:44 GMT 22:44 UK

World: Africa

Princess sees famine relief at work

The Princess saw the supplies flown into the base each day

Jennie Bond: Injured as they are, these people are the lucky ones
By Jennie Bond in Nairobi

The final leg of the Princess's tour took her to Kenya, where one of her first engagements was to lay a wreath at the site of the bomb blast at the US Embassy in Nairobi.

Jennie Bond: Injured as they are, these people are the lucky ones
More than 250 people were killed, and up to 5,000 others injured. Seven weeks on, many are still recovering from their wounds.

In Nairobi Hospital, I spoke to one of the few survivors from the office block that was blown apart by the bomb.

Andrew Mureithi was working in his fifth floor office when the blast shattered his life. His first thought was that the government was being overthrown. Then he realised he had been horribly injured, and that almost all his colleagues were dead.

[ image: Jennie Bond: Far too many people are still dying of hunger]
Jennie Bond: Far too many people are still dying of hunger
Now, blind in one eye, his hands deformed by the glass that ripped through his tendons, he says his main worry is that his disfigured face will ruin his chances of becoming a successful insurance broker.

On her last full day in East Africa the Princess flew north from Nairobi to Lokichoggio - the main base for the United Nations relief effort in southern Sudan.

Operation Lifeline Sudan

The air base is just twenty miles from the border and, in the scorching heat, the Princess saw at first hand the work that goes into Operation Lifeline Sudan - in which 37 agencies are co-operating to relieve the famine and effects of one of the world's longest running wars.

A fleet of huge cargo aircraft take off from the base each day loaded with 300 tons of food and emergency supplies. The grain is triple-packed in sacks which are sealed and bound onto pallets and then dropped over some of the worst hit areas.

[ image: Many amputations are needed]
Many amputations are needed
Latest reports from across the border indicate that, at last, the food aid is having some effect. Far too many people are still dying of hunger, but the rate of death has eased off in recent weeks.

The World Food Programme, though, is reluctant to say the corner has been turned. It knows only too well that there are parts of southern Sudan where the fighting has prevented them even getting in to assess the needs, let alone provide any support.

The Red Cross

The Princess also saw the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross at Lokichoggio. They run a hospital where some of the casualties of the conflict are flown for treatment. Since the start of the year, the hospital has dealt with more than 1200 patients - most with gun-shot wounds.

So many need amputations that it has set up its own orthopaedic workshop where they can be fitted with new limbs and taught to walk again.

It was a long and successful tour for the Princess, who was described by one newspaper here as a workaholic. She certainly thinks nothing of carrying out a punishing schedule - both abroad and at home - that often leaves others exhausted.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

In this section

Dam builders charged in bribery scandal

Burundi camps 'too dire' to help

Sudan power struggle denied

Animal airlift planned for Congo

Spy allegations bug South Africa

Senate leader's dismissal 'a good omen'

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Zimbabwe constitution: Just a bit of paper?

South African gays take centre stage

Nigeria's ruling party's convention

UN to return to Burundi

Bissau military hold fire

Nile basin agreement on water cooperation

Congo Brazzaville defends peace initiative

African Media Watch

Liberia names new army chief