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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Darfur, Sudan: Malnourishment and fear

Abdul Gafar Isaak is too small for his age. The severely malnourished 22-month-old is 17 pounds — the size of a 6-month-old.

Isaak needs high protein food, says Anastase Butsume, a doctor with the clinic at Hassa Hissa camp in Zalingei, South Darfur, Sudan. Working with Caritas Germany, a Catholic relief group, Action by Churches Together (an alliance of Protestant and Orthodox churches and relief groups that includes the ELCA) started the clinic, which serves more than 40,000 people. They've been displaced by the ongoing conflict, which in Darfur pitted Muslim against Muslim, brought on by historical inequities and a struggle for power. The main perpetrators of the conflict are militias called janjaweed (September 2004, page 42).

The last time the U.N. World Food Programme distributed food in Zalingei was two and a half months ago. With so little food, child mortality rises alarmingly. Hunger is widespread. In the camp, patients line up early each morning at ACT/Caritas' two clinics and health center. Waled Mohammed sees 200 to 300 a day. The doctor transfers malnourished children to the nutrition center, which provides supplementary food for children under 5, pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers.


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