|East Africa Crisis Appeal|
Our Lenten Fast Day has only just past, and so it is with great heaviness of heart that I find it necessary to write to you about the situation of terrible need in East Africa, which you will no doubt have seen in the news. Severe drought, and several compounding problems - lack of food, and civil war - means that now over 16 million people across South Sudan, Somalia, northern Kenya and Ethiopia are facing starvation. The United Nations warns that the world faces the largest humanitarian crisis in more than 70 years.
Only the most serious of crises would lead me to write to you again, so soon after your fasting and giving to CAFOD's work at Lent Fast Day. But the combination of issues in East Africa have created what is now such an intractable crisis that the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), of which CAFOD is a member, is launching a full scale humanitarian crisis appeal today.
So, we are alerting you to that appeal, and inviting you to respond in your parish to support our emergency response across South Sudan, Somalia, northern Kenya and Ethiopia our work in East Africa, the majority of which is in partnership with local Church partners, is as long established as CAFOD itself, and we know it is a region close to the hearts of many in the Catholic community.
The humanitarian crisis In South Sudan, alone, 4.9 million people - nearly half the population - urgently need food aid. Famine has been declared in two areas of Unity State, where 100,000 people face starvation and fears are growing that more vulnerable families in other parts of the country are on the brink of famine.
In last month (February) in a pastoral letter, the Catholic Bishops of South Sudan have called on the international community “for immediate and unconditional concrete intervention and action before thousands of innocent lives are carried away and before it is too late.”
In Somalia, the UN estimates that half the population are in now need of urgent food aidwith over 400,000 children now in need of urgent life-saving support.
In northern Kenya, the government declared drought a national disaster in February, affecting more than 2 million people in northern region of the country.
In Ethiopia, failed autumn rains in 2016 have led to a new drought affecting 5.6 million people in the southern and south eastern regions of the country.
What we and are partners are doing Our trusted local Church partners, and Caritas sister agencies are doing all that they can to reach the most vulnerable in their parishes – on the frontline providing vital aid where the needs are greatest. Unfortunately, those responding have seen the suffering and crisis worsen out of proportion, leading to the DEC's decision to respond this week. This DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal will help to support our partners scale up their work and reach more people in need.
One of saddest things about this truly devastating crisis is that so many of the communities affected have worked tirelessly, for so many years; only to be thwarted by repeatedly failing rains, extreme weathers, and circumstances beyond their control. Yet, their dignity and faith is truly extraordinary.
Most of all, I ask you please to keep the region's people in your prayers. They have endured so much, and for so long.
Please pray too for our local Catholic Church and our other partners who continue to work against the odds in the worst-affected areas across, and for us as we work with them to address this widespread crisis.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop John Arnold
Chair of Trustees, CAFOD
Your parish collection
• The situation is urgent so we are suggesting the weekend of the 18/19th March or 25/26th March for a second collection after Masses.
• Resources - including an appeal poster, prayers, and an announcement about the appeal for your parish newsletter - can be downloaded and printed here
• As usual, collection envelopes can be ordered either by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling us on 0300 011 5680
Find more details about the crisis and our work here
Keep up to date with the situation as it evolves here