Largest Refugee Crisis in Africa
Largest Refugee Crisis in Africa:
1.5 Million Flee For Safety
More than three years of civil war has fractured the world’s youngest country. Villages have been burned and life sustaining crops destroyed, leaving more than 1 million people on the brink of starvation. In regions of the South Sudan, famine has officially been declared; and recently, the United Nations has warned of imminent genocide. The result of these dire conditions is a refugee crisis, with more than 1.5 million men, women, and children desperately fleeing for their lives.
Escalated violence against civilians, looting, forced recruitment, and rape, now coupled with the limited access to food, have caused this mass movement of desperate families seeking shelter in refugee settlements. However, without sufficient food, clean water, or proper sanitation, people still find themselves in a desperate situation even after escaping. Neighboring countries like Uganda are carrying the heaviest burden–but they can’t do it alone. Just days before refugees arrived, the Government of Uganda had finished clearing land to welcome the suffering and displaced; but these camps were simply inadequate to deal with the flood of people displaced by the horrors back home, and so these camps need our continued support to care for the refugees already there, and for those still pouring across the borders.
The Bidibidi Refugee Settlement in Yumbe District, for example, is now home to approx. 270,000 refugees, mostly women and children. With your help, Sudan Relief Fund was able to send over $90,000 last year for a livelihood project aimed at providing food security. Many of these refugees are hardworking and experienced farmers; but, having fled their homes with literally only the clothes on their back, they lack the means for creating a new livelihood. Thanks to donors like you, 2,018 beneficiary households received emergency distribution of seeds, tools, and training for a self-reliant farming program.
But our work is far from over and needs have only become more critical. Assessments of the refugee camps show that many are facing “acute” or even “emergency” levels of hunger and malnutrition. But this isn’t simply due to a lack of food: it’s due to the food not being able to stay in the body long enough to accomplish its nourishing work. Sanitation problems and unhygienic conditions, specifically the lack of access to clean water in adequate amounts, has taken a worse toll even than lack of food.
The refugees face problems of malaria, diarrhoea, dysentery, and intestinal worms, all of which are due to a lack of water, sanitation, and hygiene, and all which contribute to general malnutrition and, unfortunately, a growing mortality rate. Your donation today will help bring relief to the thirsty, hungry, and suffering.
We have been asked to fund a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program in the Yumbe region that will provide water security by means of drilling boreholes, building latrines, and providing training on sanitation and hygiene. As opposed to the current solution of trucking in clean water (which is unsustainable due to cost and treacherous travel conditions), the WASH program will create clean wells right within the camps providing access to clean water that is both safer and more reliable.
Refugees are not the only problem. Despite the exodus of so many families, there remain nearly 5 million within the country who are in desperate need of aid and at risk of starvation. Thousands of these have found their way into internally displaced persons (IDP) camps to escape death from the SPLA rebels and corrupt government forces. We are funding aid relief to one such camp in the town of Riimenze, in partnership with “Solidarity with South Sudan,” an organization combining the efforts of Catholic congregations and other charitable individuals and organizations. The situation in Riimenze is one of great urgency and truly an emergency: but your donation today can help make a difference for these innocent men, women, and children who are the most at-risk victims of the senselessly violent situation in South Sudan.
Brother Bill Firman, Executive Director of Solidarity, says, “I lived happily in Riimenze for more than two years and know personally many of these people. It is so sad to see this suffering imposed upon them.”
A visitor to Riimenze in mid-January was moved to write:
“I do not have words to describe what we saw and witnessed. How this could happen in South Sudan is beyond me. [Earlier this year] I went to the village and saw about 1,000 people camped around the church compound under the mango trees. Some had large tarps strung up and others had makeshift structures that did not look in any way permanent. Today, there are more than 4,000 people around that compound!
“No one knows what to do. While we were there some soldiers came. Apparently the soldiers come anytime they want and do what they want: loot, destroy, kill animals and beat up people. . . . The government is unable to help. It is as if the people are not being considered at all. No one cares. It is horrible . . .”
It is horrible, indeed. But WE care! Your donation today will provide urgently needed assistance, both in the form of food and non-food items. It’s your generosity than can bring a ray of hope to these struggling people undergoing such terrible suffering and hardship.
Now is the time to give: because the crisis is today. Programs like WASH have the potential to begin transforming lives immediately and bringing hope to those whom hope seems to have abandoned. The situation of these refugees is such that a matter as simple as being able to wash one’s hands can mean the difference between living and dying: and you can be that difference!
Any amount can make an impact. Please, if you can, send a prayerful gift to the Sudan Relief Fund today.
Thank you and God bless you for your caring heart and generosity.
Neil A. Corkery