Anglican bishops urge UK government not to ignore East Africa hunger crisis

Dry river bed. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Source: Christian help

More than 40 Anglican Bishops from South Sudan and Kenya have united in calling on the UK government to “urge more funding for the front line of the hunger crisis in East Africa and mobilize the international community to act collectively”.

After the worst drought in 40 years, millions of people across East Africa are at risk of starvation and death. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that 18.4 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia are missing meals.

In an open letter, 44 bishops from South Sudan and Kenya say they fear “early warnings have not been heeded” and say “existing commitments to build resilience have not been backed by funding that is so desperately needed”.

Yitna Tekaligne, country director of Christian Aid Ethiopia, explains that “millions of people are taking desperate measures to survive in the face of crop failures, livestock deaths, water shortages and extreme hunger”.

He added: “The difficult conditions are compounded by the climate crisis, Covid and now Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have caused global food prices to skyrocket. A difficult situation has now turned into a serious crisis. .”

The intervention, which coincides with World Humanitarian Day 2022, follows a vigil led by the Archbishop of Canterbury with Anglican bishops from around the world at the church’s Lambeth Conference in the UK.

Speaking after the vigil, Bishop Justin Welby said, “The crisis in East Africa has been developing for at least two years and is now devastating people in the region and threatening to get worse. He added, “I call on our governments and the people of this country, please step forward to enable the purchase of food.”

The Rt Revd Dr Justin Badi Arama, Primate of South Sudan is a signatory to the open letter. He said: “People are starving. Millions are hungry and three out of four people now face severe food insecurity. We need the international community to act now to help prevent widespread starvation, the government can help by leading from the front.”

Working through local partners, Christian Aid operates in Ethiopia and Kenya. The charity helps more than 300,000 people by repairing wells, distributing water purification kits, providing cash assistance and trucking water to communities affected by drought, as well than by providing fodder and medicine to keep precious livestock alive.

One of the many people Christian Aid supports is Adoko Hatoro Engang. He is 76 years old and lives in a displaced persons camp in South Omo with his family. Recurrent drought and flooding, due to the climate crisis and the overflowing of the river, have destroyed his farmland and depleted his livestock. This causes hunger for his family.

“I remember when I was young, the rains followed the dry season and the floods devastated everything,” said Adoko Hatoro Engang. “If I can, I eat once a day. We only share very small amounts of food which we cook, using the money Christian Aid has given us.”

Karimi Kinoti, who is based in Kenya and is the acting director of policy, public affairs and campaigns for Christian Aid, welcomed the Bishops’ open letter. She said: “Ministers must accelerate the delivery of funding already pledged, reverse cuts to international aid and ensure that all humanitarian and development funding supports local actors who are best placed to respond quickly.”

The text of the open letter follows below:

We are Anglican Bishops from South Sudan and Kenya, two of the countries most affected by the hunger crisis in East Africa. We see every day how food shortages devastate the lives of our communities. Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia are experiencing an unprecedented third severe drought in a decade, and South Sudan has suffered devastating floods. This, combined with soaring global food prices, the impact of war in Ukraine and protracted armed conflicts in Ethiopia and South Sudan, is putting hundreds of thousands of lives at risk.

A few months ago, 21 million people in the Horn of Africa and South Sudan did not have enough to eat. This number is now 31 million and continues to rise, with girls and women particularly affected. No less than 75% of the inhabitants of South Sudan are in a situation of severe food insecurity, the most disastrous conditions since the birth of the nation. In Kenya, food insecurity has doubled in the past year as the world stood on its feet. Families are taking desperate measures to survive, with more than a million abandoning their homes in search of food, water and pasture for livestock. At least 7 million head of cattle have died in recent months, and children’s health is deteriorating because they don’t have enough milk.

Another famine is on the horizon, but it is not inevitable.

We call on the UK government to urgently secure more funding on the front lines of the hunger crisis in East Africa and mobilize the international community for collective action. The first warnings went unheeded. Existing commitments to build resilience have not been backed by desperately needed funding. This must change. Every day more and more lives are lost and more are in danger.

We welcome the UK government’s prompt and generous response to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. However, this should not be a reason to divert humanitarian resources from areas that also need them most, such as ours. Saint Paul wrote that we are all part of one body, we are interdependent. For the good of the whole body, sisters and brothers, we need your help.

Faithfully,

(South Sudan)

Bishop Justin Badi Arama, Primate of South Sudan; Bishop Joseph Garang Atem, Malakal/Upper Nile; Archbishop Ogeno Charles Opoka, Archbishop and Bishop of Torit; Bishop Moses Deng Bol, Diocese of Wau; Rt RevdJoseph Yual Yol, Bishop of Akobo; Rt Rev Isaac Nyariel Aleth, Bishop of Aluakluak; Rt Rev Thomas Tut Gany, Bishop of Ayod; Rt Rev John Jal Deng, Bishop of Bentiu; Rt Rev Isaac Ephraim, Bishop of Ezo; Rt Rev Abraham Ngor Mangong, Bishop of Gogrial; Rt Rev Jackson Aripa, Assistant Bishop of Juba; Rt Rev Emmanuel Modi, Bishop of Kajo-Kej; Rt Rev Joseph Aba Nicanor, Bishop of Liwolo; Rt Rev Peter Gatbel Kunen Lual, Bishop of Maiwut; Rt Rev Bismark M.Avokaya Azumu, Bishop of Mundri; Rt Rev Samuel Lomude, Bishop of Mundu Region; Rt Rev Peter Garang Akuei, Bishop of Nyamlel-Aweil West; Rt Rev Paul Paul Tokmach Lual, Bishop of Nyang; Rt Rev Tandema Obed Andrew, Bishop of Olo; Rt Revd David Kiir Mayath, Bishop of Panrieng; Rt Revd Seme Nigo Abinda, Bishop of Panyana; Rt Rev Mamer Manot, Bishop of Wanyjok-Aweil East; Rt Rev Gabriel Kuol Garang, Bishop of Wernyol; Bishop Samuel Enosa Peni, Archbishop of the Internal Province of Western Equatoria and Bishop of Yambio.

(Kenya)

Rt Rev Musa Kamuren, Bishop of Baringo; Rt Rev Prof David Kodia, Bishop of Bondo; Rt Rev Rose Okeno, Bishop of Butere; Rt Rev Gedion Muneni Nzoka, Bishop of Kitui; Rt Rev Charles Kaskan Asilutwa, Bishop of Maseno North; Rt Revd John Godia, Bishop of Maseno West Rt Revd Alphonce Mwaro Baya, Bishop of Mombasa Rt Rev Joseph Wandera, Bishop of Mumias; Rt Rev Stephen Kabora, Bishop of Nyahururu; Rt Rev Joseph Kibucwa, Bishop of Kirinyaga; Rt Rev Cleti Ogeto, Bishop of Kisu Region Rt Rev Joshua Owiti, Bishop of Maseno East; Rt Rev David M Nkaabu, Bishop of Meru; Rt Rev Timothy Gichere, Bishop of Mount Kenya Central;
Rt Rev Julius Karanu, Bishop of Muranga South; Rt Rev Robert Magina Barasa, Bishop of Nambale; Rt Rev Joel Waweru, Bishop of Nairobi; The Most Reverend Simon Edward Onyango, Bishop of South Nyanza; Rt Revd John Orina Omangi, Bishop of Kisii, Diocese of South Nyanza; Rt Rev Julius Njuguna Wanyoike, Bishop of Thika.

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