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Doctors Withour Borders Says Threat Of Famine Looms In Darfur - 2004-05-21


The humanitarian group ? Doctors Without Borders ? is again warning about the lack of food in western Sudan?s Darfur region. It says the threat of famine looms.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Darfur have been displaced by yearlong fighting between rebels and government forces, including Arab militias known as Janjaweed. Many of the displaced and humanitarian groups have blamed janjaweed for widespread burning and looting of villages.

Patrice Page is a spokesman for the group. From New York, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the results of a survey in Darfur showing dangerously high levels of malnutrition.

The nutritional survey was conducted ?among 921 children and their caregivers" in five locations: Garsila, Mukjar, Bindissi, Deleij and Um Kher.

Mr. Page says the results show acute malnutrition affecting 21.5% of the population, while 3.2% suffer from severe acute malnutrition. He says the mortality rate for children under five years of age is 5.2 deaths per 10,000 people per day. For those over five, it?s 3.6 deaths per 10,000 people per day. He says those rates are double the emergency thresholds. Mr. Page says the ceasefire, signed on April 8th, appears to have had no measurable affect on the amount of food aid entering Darfur. And aid agencies are still having problems getting government travel permits. With the rainy season due at the end of this month, relief workers say time is running out.

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