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1998: UN warns of famine in Sudan
More than a million people in Sudan are facing starvation, prompting the United Nations to declare an official famine in the region.

It estimates that up to 1.2 million people could die in the south of the country - many more than previously thought.

The dramatic increase has prompted the World Food Programme to call for an unprecedented relief operation to target those most at risk in several areas it describes as "famine zones".

Aid workers have been saying for weeks that the situation was out of control and that many more people than expected were needing food.

The news came as Sudanese authorities met in the southern state of Bahr al-Ghazal to discuss the crisis, according to the Suna news agency.

We have failed to respond in a timely fashion again
Save the Children Fund's Nick Southern
The first warnings that many parts of rebel and government-held southern Sudan were likely to face extreme food shortages came in November last year.

Child feeding centres, run by the medical group, Médecins Sans Frontières, are full of skeletal children, and adults are little better off.

Save the Children Fund's Nick Southern said: "We have failed to respond in a timely fashion again".

David Fletcher, who works for the World Food Programme, says from next month it hopes to increase food deliveries by air.

Mr Fletcher has also said that the WFP's Sudan operation is now suffering from a shortfall in donor funding of $117m.

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Panhien Garang, a one and half year-old-malnourished child sits at a feeding point in Pakot, southern Sudan
A child suffering through famine

In Context
Up to 100,000 people died in the 1998 famine in Southern Sudan.

But the following year the British Red Cross claimed that aid from the UK had at least helped save the lives of 250,000 people.

Fresh famine warnings were issued by the World Food Programme, and the area is still in a precarious condition.

In January 2004 the Sudanese Army tried to quell a rebel uprising in the western region of Darfur and more than 100,000 people seek refuge in neighbouring Chad.

Then in March a UN official said pro-government Arab militias were carrying out systematic killings of African villagers in Darfur.

Up to one million people - a sixth of the population of western Sudan - were believed to be on the move and many thousands seeking food in overstretched refugee camps.

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