CWR Purchasing Food for Starving South Sudanese

Post a Comment » Written on November 17th, 2009     
Filed under: News
SOUTH SUDAN (November 17, 2009) – Covenant World Relief (CWR) has sent $5,000 to the Evangelical Covenant Church of South Sudan and is raising another $33,000 to provide emergency food assistance for 70,000 people who are starving due to a severe drought complicated by violence.

“The people are desperate,” says Dave Husby, CWR director.

The project also is targeting Gambella, Ethiopia, the birthplace of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Sudan (ECCS), which was born in exile in a refugee camp. Husby notes that the funds will assist all who are in need and not just members of the ECCS.

The area has suffered drought since 2001 and worsened this year. “The rainy season rainfall was much lower than usual,” says Husby. “They are now entering the dry season, so the effects of the drought will become more pronounced. The harvest of maize, one of the main staple crops, is down by more than 50 percent this year.”

ChildThousands of families are reduced to eating one meal every two to three days, according to the United Nations, which estimates 1.5 million people are facing severe food insecurity.

The money raised by CWR will pay for maize and oil purchased in Africa by ECCS and then transported to the affected regions, Husby says. Purchasing the food in Africa rather than transporting from the United States is much more cost-effective and will get to the drought-stricken areas faster – click here to learn more.

The relief project is being designed, administrated and implemented by ECCSS, a mark of the denomination’s growth. “The local community has identified the problem and the best ways to love and serve their own community,” says Husby.

Violence also has contributed to food insecurity. The country still is suffering the after-effects of a civil war that raged from 1984 to 2005 and pitted the north and southern regions against one another.

Recently, 80 people in one district died as the direct result of violence, says James Tang, a Covenant missionary serving in Sudan. Among the people in the district was a family of three who were killed when they went looking for food. Two of the family members were children.

The violence is fueled by conflict between peoples of differing culture, language, and religion. The north is predominantly Arabic and Islamic in its faith tradition, whereas the south includes Sudanese from a variety of backgrounds and is primarily Christian in its faith tradition.

The young government in South Sudan that was formed as part of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement has not been able to meet the demands of the food crisis as well as stem violence that has not diminished as much as originally hoped.

South Sudan is under a tremendous amount of political pressure right now because of a pending vote for the south to secede from the north in 2011, Husby notes. That tension has led to more violence and caused numerous people to flee, both as refugees to other countries and as internally displaced peoples, says Chrissy Palmerlee, department services manager for the Covenant Department of Compassion, Mercy, and Justice.

The Covenant’s commitment to the area is crucial because other agencies have left the area for a variety of reasons and are focusing their work on other areas that also are suffering.

“All of Sudan and that region has faced severe drought and they are focusing their efforts where they have reliable partners and feel they can best use their resources,” Palmerlee says.

The South Sudan church will deliver the food, which will help ensure the food reaches the people who are starving.

Some of the food will be delivered using a boat purchased recently with CWR funds. The boat’s main purpose is to generate income through providing transportation on the White Nile River.

No special fund has been established, but anyone wanting to send money to help with the relief effort should send checks to Covenant World Relief and designate them for “Sudan drought relief.” Click here to make a donation online.

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