The United Nations World Food Program says malnutrition rates in Sudan are rising to alarming levels, and thousands of people throughout the country face starvation. The WFP says the country is facing its biggest disaster since 1998.

The World Food Program says more than three million people in Sudan are in desperate need of international assistance.

It says these people have been worn down by years of civil war and drought. And, it says, this is taking a toll on their health and putting many at risk of death.

The World Food Program says the extent of the crisis was confirmed in a recent nutritional survey, conducted in parts of southern Sudan. WFP Spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume says the investigation turned up evidence of alarmingly high rates of malnutrition.

"In some places, we found more than 32 percent of children under five suffering from very severe malnutrition," she said. "And this is very worrying. Those figures are the highest ones since the last five years, and it is worrying because, one has to remember that in 1998, we had a very severe drought in the province of Bahr el Ghazal, because of drought, and because of civil war where thousands of people suffered and died of famine."

Ms. Berthiaume says thousands of Sudanese depend on the World Food Program for their survival. Unfortunately, she says, the help the agency can give is very limited because it has run out of money.

In April, WFP launched an appeal for $130 million to provide food to 3.2 million people. Ms. Berthiaume says the agency so far has received only $40 million.

"We are urging donor countries to come to the rescue, and help us, and give us more money," said Christiane Berthiaume. "There are really huge needs in Sudan. Yes, it is a crisis that has been going on and on, and we hope that it will not suffer from what we call in our jargon donor fatigue, because there are too many peoples that need that help."

Devastating floods that recently hit the Sudanese state of Kassala have added yet another catastrophe to an already catastrophic situation.

Ms. Berthiaume says WFP is providing emergency assistance to thousands of flood victims. But she says the agency cannot bring food to these people and ignore the plight of millions of others facing starvation.