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IX. FURTHER HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES PROLONG AND DEEPEN THE FAMINE: Flight Ban Ended, and OLS Scrambled to Catch Up With Needs Caused by Continued Raiding, Poor Harvests

After lifting of the flight ban, the government stepped up military attacks on the civilian population in Bahr El Ghazal. Those attacks further debilitated the civilians who managed to survive the flight ban and earlier raids. A cease-fire on July 15 for Bahr El Ghazal temporarily halted these famine-producing abuses but the famine was not contained for several more months.

Projections of those in need in Bahr El Ghazal alone went from 250,000 in early 1998 to one million in August 1998, and to 2.4 million in all southern Sudan. It became clear, even in large international bureaucracies, what the cause of the escalating needs was. As a result of Aincessant looting and cattle raiding and disruption of economic activity,@ the FAO noted in May, Alarge sections of the population have become dependent on food aid and are highly vulnerable to even small reductions in production. Some 60 to 70 percent of the population in Bahr El Ghazal@ and other parts of Sudan were currently in need of emergency food.104

This Joint Task Force table illustrates the rapid and continuous increase in estimated population in need in the Bahr el Ghazal affected area from January to August 1998.105


Estimated population in need of food




350,000 (including 100,000 displaced population)







Monthly tonnage needs for Bahr El Ghazal quadrupled from 4,000 MT for April to 16,500 MT for August106 as the extent of the famine became clear, donors rallied, and logistics improved.107 By August the WFP was able to target more than one million in Bahr El Ghazal, but still did not have the capacity to reach all.108

In May it was already apparent that the 1998 harvest would be insufficient. The FAO warned that satellite images Aindicate late, erratic and generally insufficient rainfall@ from late March to the first week of May, with precipitation well below normal in Bahr El Ghazal.109

There was a general absence of seed, either because households consumed their seed stock as food or because it was burned by invaders. ATo purchase seeds people had to travel to markets at distances of several days= walk. Few had anything to offer in barter or money to pay. Seed distributed by OLS agencies was not adequate to meet the need, and most has rotted in the ground due to lack of rain. The sorghum harvest for this year [1998] will be grossly inadequate. . . . Cattle herds were decimated by militia raids; only a small portion of the households had even a cow or goat for milking,@ the U.N. observed.110

USAID also noted that farmers in Bahr El Ghazal were sowing only half the area planted last year, and using last year=s fields instead of clearing new land because of ever-present insecurity and Alabor and energy constraints,@111 i.e., many were dead or had migrated elsewhere and those left behind were weak from lack of food.

In a review of the year, the U.N. concluded that between February and August 1998, Ahundreds of communities in Bahr Al Ghazal that had managed for years to cope with asset-depleting insecurity, displacement and drought crossed the threshold from subsistence into starvation, while an unknown number of individuals died from hunger, disease and neglect.@112

104 Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Special Alert No. 282 - Sudan, Rome, May 15, 1998.

105 Joint Task Force Report, p. 10.

106 WFP food aid deliveries to southern Sudan were 10,300 MT in July and 16,800 MT in August, 70 percent of which was by air. WFP, Emergency Report No. 36 of 1998, September 11, 1998: Sudan.

107 "Results of occasional survey and anecdotal reports of malnutrition were not convincing to donors, as demonstrated by how severe circumstances became before resources could be solicited for intervention.@ WHO/UNICEF Mission: Nutritional surveillance.

108 Joint Task Force Report, p. 11.

109 FAO Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture, Special Alert No. 282, Country Sudan, AGrave Food Supply Difficulties in Southern Sudan and a Bleak Production Outlook for 1998,@ Rome, May 15, 1998.

110 WHO/UNICEF Joint Mission: Household food resources.

111 USAID, FEWS Bulletin May 1998, May 20, 1998.

112 OCHA, U.N. Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Sudan, January-December 1999, New York, January 25, 1999, p. 18.

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