South Sudan church leaders condemn man-made famine

6 Mar 2017   |   Emergency Relief   |   South Sudan

With the recent declaration of a famine across two counties of South Sudan, the South Sudan Council of Churches released a powerful statement on the humanitarian crisis, condemning the civil war and labelling the famine man-made. You can read the statement in its entirety below.

Our Country, the Republic of South Sudan is gripped by a humanitarian crisis, and famine has now been declared. Millions of our people are affected, with large numbers displaced from their homes and many fleeing to neighbouring countries, where they are facing terrible hardships in refugee camps. In a country, which is already suffering due to insecurity and the collapsed economy, hundreds of thousands of people face starvation if they do not receive food quickly. Our people are struggling simply to survive.

We appeal to the International Community and all Friends of the People of South Sudan to provide immediate and large-scale assistance, but we also appeal to the warring parties to stop the war, to stop harassing our people, to stop the looting of food, and to open credible humanitarian corridors to allow both people and relief commodities to reach the most needy areas.

The Holy Father Pope Francis has made an appeal for “suffering South Sudan”, saying, “At this time, it is more necessary than ever that all commit not to stop at making statements, but also to provide concrete food aid and to allow it to reach suffering populations. May the Lord sustain these our brothers and sisters and all those working to help them.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Justin WELBY, called the famine a “dire situation” requiring “an urgent humanitarian and prayerful response’, and reiterated our own appeal for humanitarian corridors. We welcome the solidarity shown by our two elder brothers in faith, which gives us courage.

While there have been poor rains in many parts of the country, there is no doubt that this famine is man-made, due to insecurity, civil conflict and poor economic management. As well as needing food aid, our people also need security, the freedom to plant and harvest their crops, opportunities to move around and seek food. We appeal to the International community, International Ecumenical Church members through the World Council of Churches (WCC) and All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), friends of the people of South Sudan, and the ACT Alliance and CARITAS Groups, to assist us, but we also recognise in the words of Archbishop Dr Justin WELBY, “We stand prayerfully alongside the South Sudanese people and their leaders,” that a huge responsibility rests on the leaders of this country, both government and opposition, to create the conditions whereby our international friends are able to help us.

We want to eco the Pastoral Message of the Catholic Bishops of South Sudan to the Faithful and people of South Sudan, that says and I quote: “A voice cries in the wilderness – ‘the voice of one crying in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.’” (Mark 1:3). The voice of the desperate people of South Sudan in a man-made famine is crying out!

We conclude this appeal by citing the first part of the South Sudanese National Anthem: “Oh God! We Praise and Glorify You for Your Grace on South Sudan, land of Great Abundance, Uphold Us United In Peace and Harmony … Oh God Bless South Sudan!”

You can download the original copy of the statement here. If you would like to help the people of South Sudan and those across the East Africa region who are affected by the food crisis, please donate to our Africa Emergency Appeal.

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