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Date: Sun, 22 Nov 1998 09:54:39 -0600 (CST)
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: RIGHTS: Hunger, Poverty Force Widows To Give Up Children In Sudan
Article: 48265
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.1343.19981123181554@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** ips.english: 526.0 **/
** Topic: RIGHTS: Hunger, Poverty Force Widows To Give Up Children In Sudan **
** Written 3:08 PM Nov 21, 1998 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **

Hunger, Poverty Force Widows To Give Up Children In Sudan

By Nhial Bol, IPS, 19 November 1998

WAU, SOUTHERN SUDAN, Nov 19 (IPS) - A combination of war, hunger, disease and poverty have forced hundreds of widows in the besieged southern Sudanese town of Wau to give up their children for adoption.

The children, who number more than 16,000, have been taken into care by a number of non-governmental organisations (ngos) like the Sudan Council of Churches (SCC), Dawaa Islamia and Care International operating in Wau, southern Sudan’s second largest city.

The children, aged 6-11, have found themselves abandoned as a result of the conflict between the government forces and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), which has claimed more than 1.5 million lives, since May 1983.

Most of the children stay in a makeshift bamboo house, with walls covered with wornout sacks, and floor with sand.

At one of the homes, a caretaker, who is a widow, mourns at the slight mention of the three of her children who died of starvation in June. My surviving three sons are not feeling well either. They hardly have enough food and their health is deteriorating so fast. I’m afraid they may die soon, she says.

Her colleague, Mama Alang, shares similar pain. Her child, malnourished, is too weak to chase away the swarm of flies hovering about his face. He is crying because he did not eat anything yesterday and there is no hope that he will eat today, says Alang who lost her husband when commander Kerubino Kwanyien Bol, a top southern Sudanese warlord, shifted allegiance to the SPLA earlier this year.

Her husband, who was a police officer, was killed by pro-government militias during the battle between Bol’s forces and government troops. Prior to the fighting, she says: we had plenty of food, clothes, a color television and a radio set.

All that have now gone. The war has reduced us to zero. There is no hope for a better life for my family anymore, Alang says.

Alang, who is in her mid-30s, says she also lost two of her children in June. My three surviving children do not go to school because they don’t have uniform and are hungry, she says.

Another widow, Mama Awin, who works with the Save the children Fund UK, tells similar tale. I earn little, hardly enough to feed my children, she says.

Like the rest of the orphans and widows, Awin lives at Nazarat, one of the seven displaced camps in Wau. Almost all the children there have no cloth on them, walk bare foot and often go hungry due to lack of food.

More than 7,000 people died of hunger-related diseases in the displaced camps in Wau between June and July.

According to aid workers, more than 100,000 persons—out of Wau’s ever changing population of 400,000—need emergency food aid. They desperately need the aid because their nutritional status is poor, according to John Akot of the ’Doctors Without Borders’ MSF-Holland in Wau.

Most of the displaced—who number about 250,000—have no access to clean drinking water and have no medicine for preventable diseases like diarrhoea and whooping cough, which cause the death of at least 10-15 children a day in the town, according to Akot.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) says the starvation in southern sudan’s Bahr El Ghazal region, of which Wau is the main town, is threatening the lives of more than 2.6 million people, and that in some areas malnutrition rates has increased to 60 percent.

Relief supply to the displaced camps in Wau is irregular and slow because government officials frustrate the efforts of ngos with bureaucratic ’red tape’.

Despite the hardships, the streets of Wau are full of unaccompanied children from the rural areas. One boy, aged 12, says his parents died on the way to Wau and that he has no idea if the rest of his family is still alive in the village.

If I have the means, I will return home. Life is harder in Wau than it is in the village, says the boy, who refused to be named for security reasons.