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War/Conflict, Environment
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Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa
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Africa, Sudan, Starvation, Food, World Food Programme, Famine
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The following images are from a story about food aid in Southern Sudan, a nation which has been plagued by civil war since 1983. Most of the pictures were taken in the village of Mayandit, where they are experiencing one of the worst droughts in the past ten years, meaning that they are completely reliant upon food aid from World Food Programme.
Justin J. Yurkanin

2002 — student winner

The following images are from a story about food aid in Southern Sudan. The nation of Sudan has been plagued by civil war since 1983. More than four million people have been displaced from their homes since the beginning of the war, and two million people have died as a result of the war. People in the south of Sudan began fighting the northern government of Sudan because of the north's invasion of lands to extract resources like oil and water, as well as to escape the oppression posed to them by the strict rules of Islamic Sharia law.

These images were taken in the villages of Mayandit, Narus, and Katamoto. Most of the pictures were taken in Mayandit, a village located in Leech country of the Western Upper Nile Provence in Southern Sudan. Mayandit is located in an area that has a large amount of oil underneath the surface. It is heavily fought over because the northern government uses the oil to fund its war against the rebel southern army, the Sudanese People's Liberation Army.

People in Mayandit have been experiencing one of the worst droughts in the past ten years, meaning that they are completely reliant upon food aid from World Food Programme. Also, due to heavy fighting in the area, villagers from Mayandit experience regular bombings.

I photographed this story in January of 2003. At the time there was a ceasefire called between SPLA and the government of Sudan. However, in Western Upper Nile, the southern Sudanese experienced fighting and bombings on a daily basis. According to villagers in Mayandit, the government of Sudan is trying to build a road to move drilled oil down the Nile to be shipped to Port of Sudan. SPLA, knowing this oil will fund the GOS militias to further fight and pillage the southern territories, has launched an offensive against this road being built.

Innocent people have no means to produce food because of the insecurity posed to them by the fighting and the drought. Thus they are only able to feed themselves through emergency food aid, brought to them by World Food Programme.

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"Only the shirt you wear is what you come with," said Tong Buom. Buom and her one-year-old grandson Bol Luong were displaced from their village of Tutnyang, in the Western Upper Nile region of Sothern Sudan, after intense ground attacks and bombings by Government of Sudan Militias. Sudan has more than four million internally displaced people according to the UN, the largest such population in the world. Western Upper Nile is a key area of Southern Sudan because of the large quantities of oil and water from the Nile. The government of Sudan has adopted a scorched earth policy in order to displace villages from their land to allow for the exploration and drilling of oil in Western Upper Nile. According to World Food Programme workers, it is a daily occurrence for the villages in Western Upper Nile to be bombed, in order to allow oil companies to safely drill for oil. Justin J. Yurkanin/Alexia Foundation
A woman argues with another woman about the amount of food each person will receive. The arguing woman's chief points out that she has already received four cups of food and that she is not entitled to as much food as she wants. Justin J. Yurkanin/Alexia Foundation
Amputees wait for the food distribution to begin outside of Mayandit. World Food Programme targets people in Southern Sudan who are most affected by the war. Most of these people are women, children and disabled people as they are often unable to maintain cattle or crops because of the fighting in Western Upper Nile. Justin J. Yurkanin/Alexia Foundation
Women mask themselves in shawls to protect against the harsh weather conditions in Southern Sudan. Dusty and windy conditions plague Mayandit due to one of the worst droughts in the last ten years. All of the crops failed this year in Mayandit due to the drought, hence the need for food aid. Justin J. Yurkanin/Alexia Foundation
Women wait in line to receive their portion of food at the food distribution in Mayandit. They waited in line for several hours as village chiefs decided how much each woman would receive. It was decided that each woman would receive 38 kilograms of food to feed six people for a month. Justin J. Yurkanin/Alexia Foundation
There were 17 villages that received food from the Mayandit food distribution, some a days walk from Mayandit. At the chief's meeting circles were drawn on a plywood board to represent each village and stones were placed inside the circle to represent the amount of food each village would receive. Justin J. Yurkanin/Alexia Foundation
After all the food has been dropped, the local chiefs meet with WFP aid workers to decide how the food will be distributed. Women are not part of this process and are forced to sit in the back of the meeting hall as all of the decisions are made by men. This happens, despite the fact only women are allowed to receive food because men often sell the grain or use it to make alcohol. Justin J. Yurkanin/Alexia Foundation
An old woman waits for food distribution to begin. Food Aid is not a solution for the women and men in Southern Sudan's hunger problem, according to Hezron Kaburu, a WFP worker. "These people are always being marginalized, I will be surprised if Mayandit will still be around in a month after the ceasefire ends," said Kaburu. Justin J. Yurkanin/Alexia Foundation
Men begin to offload vegetable oil from a WFP Buffalo cargo plane. Justin J. Yurkanin/Alexia Foundation
Children watch as a World Food Programme C-130 cargo plane drops 50-kilogram sacks of corn. The food was to be distributed to people in outlaying areas around Mayandit, Western Upper Nile in Southern Sudan. Although there has been a ceasefire declared between the rebel Sudanese people Liberation Army and the government of Sudan, Western Upper Nile has seen fighting on a daily basis. This insecurity combined with a regional drought has left the people of Mayandit with no food and wholly dependent upon food aid from World Food Programme. Almost all of the food comes from the US, which donates $78 million annually to Operation Lifeline Southern Sudan. Justin J. Yurkanin/Alexia Foundation