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1998 Sudan famine

The famine in Sudan in 1998 was a humanitarian disaster caused mainly by human rights abuses, as well as drought and the failure of the international community to react to the famine risk with adequate speed.[1] The worst affected area was Bahr El Ghazal in southwestern Sudan. In this region over 70,000 people died during the famine.[2]


The famine was caused almost entirely by human rights abuse and the war in Southern Sudan.[3] Despite the Sudanese government's claims that only the rebel groups were to blame, drought were also to blame,[4] Human Rights Watch blamed the following groups:[1]

The government and Kuanyin Bol are blamed for their role in destroying the local agriculture during their attempt to take the city of Wau.[5] The SPLA are blamed for their maintenance of slavery and pilfering of aid.[4]

This was worsened by the late arrival of the rainy season[3] and a failure to respond to the situation by the international community.[6]


The effects on the region were enormous, with the excess mortality estimated at about 70,000 people.[7] Many more are thought to have been displaced, with over 72,000 people reported as migrating from the threatened rural zones to Wau alone from May 1998 to August 1998.[8] Effects on the country included – indirectly – famine as expenditure was concentrated on the materials of war, i.e. weaponry, medical supplies etc., rather than the assistance of agriculture and farming. The situation in Darfur was compounded by a lack of strong government intervention, with the Muslim government in the North failing to cooperate with the Christian government in the South.


A ceasefire was signed on July 15, 1998, some eight months after the Sudanese government had first warned of a possible famine.[6] After numerous extensions, this ceasefire lasted nearly a year, until April 1999. However, the Baggara militia continued to ignore the ceasefire, reducing the ability of aid agencies to help.[9] Thanks to a good crop and this ceasefire, however, the situation was brought under control by the end of 1998.[10] However, the area has remained in trouble and a number of famine warnings have come since the end of 1998.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b Famine In Sudan, 1998 Human Rights Watch, Accessed May 25, 2006
  2. ^ Ó Gráda, Cormac (2009), Famine: a short history, Princeton University Press, p. 24, ISBN 978-0-691-12237-3. 
  3. ^ a b Despite aid effort, Sudan famine squeezing life from dozens daily CNN, Accessed May 25, 2006
  4. ^ a b 70 Sudanese dying daily due to famine Accessed May 25, 2006
  5. ^ The 1998 Famine In Bahr El Ghazal Human Rights Watch, Accessed May 25, 2006
  6. ^ a b 1998: UN warns of famine in Sudan BBC Accessed May 25, 2006
  7. ^ Famine in the Sudan: Causes, Preparedness and Response Luka Biong Deng, Institute of Development Studies, 1999, accessed August 29, 2006]
  8. ^ Bahr El Ghazal and the Famine of 1998 Human Rights Watch, Accessed May 25, 2006]
  9. ^ Cease-fire Brought Relief Human Rights Watch, Accessed May 25, 2006
  10. ^ Political Complications Boding Ill For Future Relief: The 1998 Famine in Bahr El Ghazal is Brought Under Control Human Rights Watch, Accessed May 25, 2006

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