Fear of famine stalks Sudan's Kordofan

2012-10-18 09:02
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - Hundreds of thousands of people in Sudan's conflict-torn state of South Kordofan are on the brink of famine as Khartoum keeps up a blockade on aid agencies, a new survey released Thursday said.

The study, carried out by an international aid group and released via the Washington-based Enough Project, warns the situation in the state resembles the conditions that led up to the Horn of Africa famine in 2011.

"If the international community does not respond to these early warning indicators in South Kordofan, the situation could have devastating consequences," said John Prendergast, the project's co-founder.

A team of public health experts from the aid group - which has asked not to be identified for security reasons - visited the Nuban mountains under the control of the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N).

Large numbers of people displaced by the conflict, which has raged for over a year, are living in caves in the mountains. During the team's two-week study in August they assessed some 2 467 children aged from six months to just under five years and found 14.9% were suffering from acute malnutrition.

About 81.5% of households are surviving on only one meal a day, a huge rise from a year ago when it was only 9.5%, and two years ago, when no households reported not being able to eat more than once a day.

At least 73.2% of households reported having no source of income, and 65.7% of households had only one week's supply of food.

Government bombings

The researchers were unable to reach communities living along the frontlines of the conflict pitting Khartoum against the rebels, and fear conditions are even worse there.

An estimated 350 000 people are trapped in the area, which has been subjected to a barrage of government bombings as they fight the SPLM-N rebels.

Another 70 000 are in similarly dire straits in the Blue Nile state, where rebels are also fighting government forces.

"This is a political famine. Because of near daily bombings by the government of Sudan, its own people have been unable to plant or harvest crops," Jonathan Hutson, the project's communications director told AFP.

"So when we come to the dry season... in just a few weeks, the harvest is expected to be very low yield and will only slightly ameliorate the near famine conditions that have already taken hold throughout the Nuba mountains."

Enough called on the international community to pre-position some 20,000 tons of food, as well as medical supplies, shelters and other goods along the South Kordofan border, and to pressure Khartoum to lift the blockade.

There are no reliable figures on how many people have died in aerial bombing, shelling and firefights across South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, where the SPLM-N launched its insurgency last year.

But the United Nations has reported a steadily increasing number of hungry people fleeing for South Sudan, where more than 173 000 are now encamped.

Early warning indicators

Enough Project - set up by the Centre for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity - also called on the African Union to act with the UN Security Council to help negotiate humanitarian access.

The survey was the first on-the-ground assessment of the situation in the region since June 2011, and its findings were independently vetted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Experts fear that without an intervention the situation will worsen. Aid groups say tens of thousands of people have died of hunger since the mid-2011 severe drought in the Horn of Africa, afflicting Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

"While there were early warning indicators for Somalia at that time, interventions were not fully scaled to a level that met the growing need until the situation hit crisis levels and a famine was declared," the project said.

"If the international community does not respond to similar early warning indicators in South Kordofan, the situation could become as severe as the famine in Somalia, in which hundreds of thousands of people died, including 29 000 children in three months."

SPLM-N rebels fought alongside insurgents from southern Sudan who waged a 22-year civil war which ended in a 2005 peace deal leading to South Sudan's independence in July 2011.

Read more on:    un  |  sudan  |  africa hunger  |  aid  |  east africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


You HAVE to see this MTB Tsunami Fip!

You might not know what a Tsunami Flip is, but just watching this will turn your eyes into saucers. Check out this first-ever MTB Tsunami Flip in contest here.


Where were you when you last felt alive?

Bear Grylls’ top 10 things kids should do outdoors
Mountain unicycling – say WHAT?
Top tips to ensure you’re running right
Stand-up paddle boarding a great workout

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Deal of the week!

20% off Afrikaans books, music and DVDs. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Hot gaming titles – available for pre-order!

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition, Far Cry 4, Grand Theft Auto 5 and more. Pre-order now!

Get a free eBook

Buy 3 eBooks and get the cheapest FREE. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


Pushing too hard and doing too much may have left you feeling drained and overwhelmed. You may need time out to recharge and reset...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.