As the situation in South Sudan deteriorates, with recent eruption of renewed armed conflict and United Nations reports that 4.8 million people face food shortages, the Church of the Brethren has donated a vehicle to aid staff in food distribution and other relief work.
Athanasus Ungang, who is country director for Global Mission and Service in South Sudan, has posted a video about the work of distributing food and seed relief. View it on the Church of the Brethren Global Mission Facebook page at www.facebook.com/permalink.php?
S. Sudan situation marked by violence, hunger
In recent weeks, there has been more armed conflict in South Sudan, with fighting erupting around the Juba area. The violence has exacerbated an already threatening food shortage. According to Reuters, UN agencies have said that “up to 4.8 million people in South Sudan face severe food shortages in coming months, the highest level since a conflict erupted more than two years ago” (the Reuters report dated June 29 is at http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFKCN0ZF1K7 ).
“With increasing violence and growing crowds of people seeking protection, urgent action and support from the ecumenical community is needed in South Sudan as the country teeters on the brink of a humanitarian crisis,” reported the World Council of Churches (WCC) in a release dated July 15.
“The country is on the brink of economic collapse, and prices of food items, particularly maize flour–a staple food in South Sudan–has soared over the past days,” the release said.
A peace advisory group of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) met on June 13 in Nairobi, Kenya, and released an appeal for all partners and friends of South Sudan to contribute any amount at their disposal for immediate support of extremely vulnerable women and children affected by the crisis.
“With churches becoming sheltering places, there is a need for any humanitarian assistance that can be mobilized,” said the appeal, which also called for churches in the region and internationally to speak in one voice for peace. “The South Sudanese Church leaders feel very strongly that such a united voice could have some impact,” said the appeal.
The South Sudan Council of Churches condemned all acts of violence, without exception, in a statement that was read over the radio. “The time for carrying and using weapons has ended; now is the time to build a peaceful nation,” said the statement. “We pray for those who have been killed, and for their families, and we ask God’s forgiveness for those who have done the killing.”
Church leaders urged repentance and a firm commitment from all armed individuals, forces, and communities, and from their leaders, to create an atmosphere where violence is not an option.
Purchase of relief vehicle
A relief vehicle has been purchased for use in South Sudan, using donations to the Church of the Brethren Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) and funds provided by the Global Mission and Service office. The staff at Brethren Disaster Ministries requested an EDF allocation of up to $16,400 for the purchase.
“The Church of the Brethren mission is working to build peace and strengthen communities of faith while helping meet the needs of the most vulnerable in communities where we have relationships,” said the grant request. “This work has included hosting work camps from the US, distributing emergency supplies after a fire, and distributing emergency food to starving communities.”
The EDF grant covers half the cost of the vehicle, with the other half coming from Global Mission and Service funds designated for South Sudan. It is anticipated the vehicle will be used on future disaster response and relief activities. The vehicle is a Toyota Landcruiser Hardtop Long Bed with seating for 13 people.