Famine in Sudan eases, concern it may resume in early summer

A sense of desperate crisis for about 5 million hungry people in the far west of Sudan has been eased in recent weeks. But UN, US, and private relief agency officials are still deeply concerned that new famine might break out at the end of May or early June.

``Yes, we're breathing a little easier now than we were in January,'' says a US aid official in Washington. ``US government grain is moving from Port Sudan to the provinces of Dafur and Kordofan.

``But we do worry about May and June,'' comments Phyllis Dobyns of Save The Children (US) in Connecticut, who runs large aid programs in the area: ``Yes, US aid grain is moving now. Yes, Washington says it will provide all the 100,000 tons of grain it has stored at Port Sudan. And yes, the far west had rain and had a harvest at the end of last year. They have some stocks.''

``The question is whether we can pre-position enough new food before the rains in May to carry people through the rainy planting season and the long wait until the next harvest at the end of 1986,'' says Hugh Mackay of Save the Children (UK) in London, who also has relief programs in Sudan's western areas. He clenches his fist in urgency as he describes the need for quick movement of grain in the current dry season.

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