While the world's attention is focused on the plight of Iraqi Kurds, relief officials say a far more serious human tragedy is unfolding in the Sudan, where between 9 million and 11 million lives are at risk because of food shortages.

"Forty percent of the population has no food," said Andrew Natsios, director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance in the Agency for International Development.Drought and civil war are primary contributors to the prospective famine in the East African country, but there is general agreement among experts that the Sudanese government bears a heavy responsibility along with southern-based rebels.