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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 June, 2004, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
Sudanese children dying of hunger
The burial of a boy who has starved to death
Aid workers fear there could be thousands of burials in Darfur
Hundreds of children have started to starve to death in Sudan's war-torn western province of Darfur.

The BBC's Hilary Andersson saw the burial of two-year-old Ikram and says 400 other children in the same camp in Kalma were unable to keep food down.

Their families have fled attacks by pro-government Arab militias, accused of forcing black Africans off the land.

Last week, a senior aid worker said 300,000 people would starve in Darfur, even if help is sent immediately.

Some 10,000 have died in Darfur, since a rebellion broke out last year and one million have fled their homes.

The rains have already begun to fall, which will soon make Darfur, an area the size of France, virtually impassable, our correspondent says.

'Too little'

Speaking after his return from the area, UK Secretary for International Development Hilary Benn said Darfur was undoubtedly the largest humanitarian crisis in the world and more aid agencies were needed there.

"We are in a race against time in Darfur," he told MPs.

Nine-month-old Adam
Adam's mother walked for 10 days after their village was burnt
He admitted that the international response to the crisis had been too little, too late but said the UK was committed to doing all that it could.

"I have also been concerned about the adequacy and speed of the UN's response, although this should now change."

Our reporter in Darfur says that while Ikram died, another boy on the same mat, Joseph, could not be coaxed to eat.

His mother could do nothing but watch.

The mother of nine-month-old Adam says that she walked without food for 10 days to reach the camp.

"The militias burnt our village... They were burning the children," she said.

Our correspondent says village after village in Darfur has been burnt, while food is running out in all the camps, where people have sought refuge.


"If we get relief in, we could lose a third of a million. If we do not, it could be a million," Andrew Natsios, head of the US Agency for International Development told a UN donor conference last week.

The figures were based on mortality and malnutrition rates, he said.

The government and two rebel groups have signed a ceasefire but the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (Jem) has accused the army and its militia allies of attacking them near the border with Chad earlier this week.

Jem official Abu Bakr Hamid al-Nur told Reuters news agency that the government had used an Antonov aircraft and helicopters to bomb the rebel positions.

International Development Secretary Hilary Benn
"We need to get aid in urgently - this is a race against time"

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