A special meeting of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) held June 28-29 in Nairobi, Kenya, has issued a call to action asking churches, governments and relief organizations to respond to the crisis of hunger in the Horn of Africa.
Specifically, the call to action asks for help in addressing the underlying issues driving the crisis by focusing on conflict resolution, climate change, and promoting good governance.
“It is our prophetic witness to overcome hunger, to sustain peace, justice and the care for creation, in the Horn of Africa and in all places,” the call says. “We pray that God grants us the faith, hope and love to follow through with this Call to Action!”
Countries in and near the Horn of Africa, including Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Yemen and parts of Kenya have been dealing with a severe lack of food for months, and are considered by the United Nations to be at risk of sliding into famine due to drought conditions that have been exacerbated by civil unrest.
More than 20 million people in Yemen, South Sudan, Kenya and Nigeria are at risk of starvation, according to numbers released by the United Nations earlier this year. A majority of these are children, according to Adrian Edwards, a spokesperson for the the United Nations High Commission on Refugees.
The special meeting of the AACC, an ecumenical organization dedicated to nurturing Christianity in Africa and responding to humanitarian challenges, was called by the World Council of Churches and the ACT Alliance earlier this year, at a time when matters in South Sudan had deteriorated to the point where parts of the country were experiencing famine conditions.
Among those present at the meeting was Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund’s (PWRDF) executive director Will Postma.
In a July 5 interview, Postma told the Journal that as of June 30 the PWRDF had raised $280,000 through its famine appeal, money which is earmarked both for immediate humanitarian work and longer term projects focused on peace building.
The fund has been active in famine relief in South Sudan, Somalia and Kenya over the past year, but Postma said new initiatives are being considered as well, including involvement in relief efforts in Yemen, where a drought and a civil war have left nine million without secure access to food, according to the UN.
The fund is also considering a partnership with the Quakers and the South Sudan Council of Churches to work on a peace-building initiative in South Sudan, where hunger is exacerbated by an ongoing conflict between government forces and rebels.
“Church leaders in South Sudan said, of the institutions that are left, the church is still the most credible of the institutions,” said Postma. “We do have something to say as the church.”