Food shortages and advanced malnutrition have taken their toll in Sudan, the African nation where famine is nothing new. International aid agencies have estimated that so far 1.5 million people have died of starvation and fighting across Sudan.
The toll from hunger in Ajiep, a Sudanese village, alone quadrupled over just nine days with 121 people dying in one day. The international medical organisation, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSV), has calculated a crude mortality rate which shows that in Ajiep 70 per 1,000 of the adult population and 133 per 10,000 children under the age of five are dying. Failed harvests, consecutive droughts and disruption of cattle farming has caused the most severe food shortage in Sudan in 10 years.
The 15-year-old civil war is also to be blamed for aggravating and, in some cases, starting a famine. Rebels have fought for autonomy for the South whose people are largely African, Christian and animist from a North ruled by Muslims and Arabs. Fighters have often looted or burned stores of food and farmers' fields and cattle. In fact, no one is sure how many of the 1.5 million deaths so far came from fighting and how many from starvation.
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