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Sudan Needs Half-Billion Dollars to Ease Starvation

October 17, 1988

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) _ Sudan is working with the United Nations and the World Bank to raise nearly half a billion dollars urgently needed to save millions of hungry people displaced by floods and war.

The United Nations plans a worldwide appeal for immediate donations totaling $50 million to care for 2 million people displaced in southern Sudan by a 5-year-old civil war, according to Bryan Wannop, representative of the U.N. Development Program.

In addition, experts from the Washington-based World Bank on Monday proposed a two-year, $407 million reconstruction program from August and September floods that destroyed $3.1 billion in property.

Sudan, Africa’s largest country, has a foreign debt of $11 billion.

In addition, the government is spending about $1 million a day fighting the war in the south, which the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army seems to be winning. On Monday, a rebel radio broadcast monitored in Kenya claimed the capture of a sixth southern town in four weeks.

The guerrilla war - fought between Sudan’s Arab Moslem majority in the north and the Christian, animist minority in the south - has driven almost 2 million people toward the north and east into Ethiopia.

Fighting in the countryside forced the population to abandon farming and cattle-breeding, to trek to government-controlled cities and subsist on relief food, where war or bad weather often blocks the delivery of supplies.

Western relief officials say about a million southerners have gathered in and around the capital of Khartoum, about 350,000 in western Ethiopia and half a million in the rest of Sudan.

Among those living at the edge of death are about 150,000 people in Kordofan and Darfur, areas just north of the southern battle zone. An estimated 10,000 have starved to death there during the summer.

The tragedy has prompted a $1 million airlift financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development to the small village of Abyei, 500 miles southwest of Khartoum, where relief officials say 10 people are dying every day. The 10-day airlift was half-finished on Monday.

Wannop, the U.N. development specialist, said relief organizations plan to use the first $50 million relief to move displaced people about 200,000 to 300,000 people from Kordofan and Darfur toward their southern homelands but out of the reach of the fighting.

This would keep more refugees from inundating Khartoum, he said, where about 1 million people are living in tin-and-canvas shanty towns after scores have died in floods.

Sudan’s minister of public communications, Taj el-Sir Mustafa, said the two-year relief plan he accepted Monday was based on surveys conducted during field work by World Bank experts.

The program will be presented to donor countries and contributors next month, he said.

Mustafa and Western experts said the study found the heavy rains will help the economy in many ways. The rain ended an 8-year-old drought, and the minister said Sudanese farmers should have bumper harvests this year, with almost 10 times as much land under cultivation as during the drought.

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