Sudan MP says 150,000 starving in Red Sea state

AFP , Sunday 3 Apr 2011

Sudanese opposition MP said that 150,000 people are suffering from hunger in his constituency in an impoverished region of Red Sea state

A Sudanese opposition MP said on Saturday that 150,000 people are suffering from hunger in his constituency in an impoverished region of Red Sea state and called on those responsible to resign.

"150,000 people living in 40 villages in south Tokar are suffering from hunger," said Hamid Idriss, who represents the region in the Red Sea state assembly.

"The area is in an emergency situation... There are no water resources and the people also suffer from a lack of medical services... (and) from landmines left over from the civil war period," he told AFP by telephone from Port Sudan.

"We informed the state about this, but no one cares."

As in much of East Sudan, aid workers say child malnutrition rates are high in parts of Tokar, which is about 150 kilometres (93 miles) south of Port Sudan, near the border with Eritrea.

War, climate change and environmental degradation have taken their toll on the local population, at least 33 of whom were killed in heavy flooding last year.

Idriss said a key contributor to rising hunger levels was the failure of the state-run Tokar agricultural scheme, caused in part by the rapid spread of the mesquite tree that was initially introduced to control sand-dune migration but which now prevents farmers from planting their crops.

"My message to the president and to the governor of the region is that the people elected you to serve them. If you cannot, then you must resign," he said.

East Sudan witnessed a decade-long rebellion by ethnic minority groups against the central government in Khartoum that ended with a fragile peace deal in 2006.

Poverty is rampant among the resource-rich but neglected region's five million inhabitants, most of whom live on less than two dollars a day.

The World Food Programme says on its website that chronic food insecurity, underdevelopment and sporadic conflict are major concerns there.

Around one quarter of Sudan’s population is malnourished and 41 percent of children under five are underweight for their age, according to British-based charity Christian Aid.

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