This week's In the News covers the famine in Sudan. The seven resources discussed offer news, analysis, and commentary. The largest country in Africa, Sudan has been wracked by civil strife and violence since becoming an independent republic in 1956. Years of civil war have devastated the Sudanese economy and society, killing over 1.2 million since 1983 alone. Despite this tortured history, Sudan may now be facing its worst crisis. After two years of drought, bad harvests and renewed fighting, over 2.5 million people require emergency food aid and malnutrition rates exceed 60% of the population in some areas. While international relief agencies have scrambled to assist, many estimate that only about half of what is needed in terms of money and material is arriving. While the weather has played a role in the current crisis, it is also a product of the long-running conflict between the Islamic government in the north and the mainly Christian south. An attempt to institute strict Islamic law in the south in 1983 touched off a conflict between the government and numerous rebel groups in the south, most importantly the Sudan's Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA), which became a full-scale civil war by the mid-1980s. Since then some concessions have been made to the South and several peace talks were held. The present situation was touched off in February, 1998 when local warlord Kerubino Kuanyin Bol, who had been fighting for the government, rejoined the rebellion, reigniting the conflict. Two weeks ago the government and the SPLA announced a one-month cease-fire to allow aid to get through, but many aid workers believe it may be too late. The rainy season has finally arrived, one moth late, hampering communication and the transportation of much-needed food and medicine. In the meantime, Sudan has rapidly become a destination of choice for documentary news photographers eager for startling and powerful photos. Whether or not sufficient aid will arrive in their wake remains to be seen.
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