World Vision joins global effort to spur Christians to action around unprecedented hunger crisis in East Africaby Church Resource Team on May 5, 2017
Hunger in Africa: Acheng, right, feeds her 18-month-old son, Garang, a pouch of ready-to-use therapeutic food at a center in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. The toddler has struggled with TB and malnutrition as the country suffers widespread food shortages due to conflict. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Stephanie Glinski)
GENEVA (May 4, 2017) — Facing the largest humanitarian crisis since 1945, World Vision is joining with other faith-based groups who are calling on Christians around the world to act on behalf of millions in danger of starving to death.
The World Council of Churches (WCC), a fellowship of hundreds of churches in more than 110 countries, has declared May 21 a Global Day of Prayer to End Famine. This comes in light of dire warnings that more than 20 million people in East Africa face starvation and are in need of immediate aid.
A combination of conflict, recurring severe drought, and high food prices has created unprecedented famine and hunger in the region. In areas of South Sudan, the United Nations has already officially declared famine. Large areas of Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen are on the brink of famine, too. About 1.4 million children are severely acutely malnourished in those countries.
“Hunger is often called a ‘silent killer’ because it advances under the world’s radar,” says Rich Stearns, president of World Vision U.S. “Aid agencies’ warnings are drowned out by other news, and by the time famine is declared, a serious situation has already turned tragic. Today, the alarm is going off, and it’s not a drill — people are dying. We must react.”
World Vision hopes the Day of Prayer will raise awareness among the half a billion Christians that member churches within the WCC represent. Christians are urged to pray for peace as conflict is the common denominator across all East African countries facing famine and to take action, including by giving to agencies who are working on the ground.
“Matthew 25 makes it so clear that we must respond,” Stearns says. “Jesus said, ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat…’ We know that whatever we do for ‘the least of these,’ we do it for Jesus himself. This crisis is an opportunity to put our faith in action and powerfully demonstrate Christ’s love to people in their darkest hour.”
The call to action for Christians to pray and engage with churches, governments and society comes days before the G7 meets in Italy on May 26-27. The G7 will discuss food security, crisis situations in sub-Saharan Africa and migration.
World Vision is currently delivering life-saving food, water, and health interventions in South Sudan and Somalia, and responding to the needs of Nigerian refugees who have fled to Chad and Niger to escape violence. The Christian humanitarian organization is also focused on long-term resilience work in countries throughout East Africa, including Ethiopia and Kenya. World Vision is providing clean water, forming savings groups, and providing training and drought-resistant seeds, as well as immunizations for livestock. These, and other initiatives are designed to ensure that a drought doesn’t have to mean a hunger crisis for communities.
- World Vision has reached 1 million people in South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya with humanitarian assistance and aims to reach 2.2 million with a US$92 million response.
- The international community has appealed for US$4.4 billion for Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. So far US$1.1 billion has been given.
- Global partners in the Day of Prayer include: The All Africa Conference of Churches, Caritas in Veritate International, Salvation Army International, United Methodist Church-Global Ministries, World Evangelical Alliance; with many other global and national partners also joining.
See full press release here.