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Monday, March 2, 1998 Published at 04:24 GMT

World: Africa

UN aid flights to Sudan
image: [ Malnutrition is rife after weeks without aid ]
Malnutrition is rife after weeks without aid

The United Nations has resumed relief flights to the southern Sudanese city of Wau, where civil war has left thousands of people desperately short of food and medicine.

According to Sudan's commissioner for humanitarian assistance, Hussein el-Obeid, the government has also given the go-ahead for humanitarian agencies to deliver aid to Wau by road.

[ image: The UN has not been allowed to enter the area since February 4]
The UN has not been allowed to enter the area since February 4
He said more than 1,000 civilians in Wau were now starving and that the city had "an acute shortage of basic necessities such as food, clothes and drugs."

The UN flights are the first to Wau since February 4 when the government cut air links to the area after rebels from the Sudan People's Liberation Army attacked the city.

But on Wednesday the government lifted the ban on flights to the state of Bar el Ghazal, of which Wau is the capital.

Alessandro Giusti, from Save the Children, said that the problems in southern Sudan need urgent attention.

[ image: More aid is needed to feed the population]
More aid is needed to feed the population
"I am not a doctor but these children have serious malnutrition," he said. "They need to be properly nourished and there are so many that need it around here."

An inititial food drop to the area has already been made, but according to relief workers, much more is needed.

The displaced population around Wau is now completely dependent on aid arriving from outside and because of the instability in the nation few can stay anywhere for long enough to plant their own crops.

Although government forces have defeated the rebel offensive at Wau, the SPLA has made steady gains since December and appears to control more land than at any point in its 14-year fight.

Relief agencies estimate that four million have been displaced in southern Sudan this year and have appealed for $109m (£66m) to buy humanitarian aid.

About 1.5 million people have died in Sudan since 1983, when the rebels renewed their battle for greater autonomy.


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