International aid agency World Vision is backing a global prayer day aimed at mobilising millions of Christians to act to prevent the mass starvation of children and their communities in Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen and Nigeria.
The World Council of Churches has declared May 21 a Global Day of Prayer to End Famine in response to warnings that more than 20 million people face starvation in what the UN has declared the largest humanitarian crisis since 1945. The call to action for Christians to pray and engage with churches, governments and society comes days before the G7 meets in Italy on May 26-27. The G7 will discuss food security, crisis situations in sub-Saharan Africa and migration.
“Hundreds of thousands of people could die if aid does not get to them very quickly, and children are worst-affected by hunger,” warned Kevin Jenkins, President and CEO of World Vision. "This crisis has failed to mobilise the urgent attention and funding that is needed to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. The Day of Prayer is an acknowledgement that time is running out - an opportunity for the Church to cry out for changed hearts, for a caring response and for an end to violence.”
World Vision hopes the Day of Prayer will raise awareness among the half a billion Christians that member churches within the WCC represent. Christians are urged to pray for peace as conflict is the common denominator across the four countries facing famine and to take action, including by giving to agencies who are working on the ground.
World Vision is currently delivering life-saving food, water, and health interventions in South Sudan, where famine has already been declared, in Somalia, which is on the brink, and responding to the needs of Nigerian refugees who have fled violence to Chad and Niger.
Staff recently met Somali mother Suray Mohamed who had lost her entire family of seven children on their long march to find food. Across the four countries 1.4 million children aged under five are severely malnourished and on the edge of death.
Simon Nyabwengi, World Vision’s country director in Somalia, said famine fatigue and conflict were putting some off engaging with the crisis but it was important to stand by the region’s children.
He said: “The world is rapidly eradicating poverty. It’s now places like Somalia and South Sudan where the most vulnerable hard-to-reach people live. I’m praying that we stand with the generation of children who could see an end to extreme poverty.”
- World Vision has reached 1 million people in South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya with humanitarian assistance and aims to reach 2.2 million with a US$92 million response
- The international community has appealed for US$4.4 billion for Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. So far US$1.1 billion has been given.
- Global partners in the Day of Prayer include: The All Africa Conference of Churches, Caritas in Veritate International, Salvation Army International, United Methodist Church-Global Ministries, World Evangelical Alliance; with many other national partners also joining.