World Vision joins faith-based NGOs in support of DEC East Africa appeal
Children in Somalia: Children are often the worst affected when famine strikes.
World Vision ambassador Jerome Flynn says he is ‘changed forever’ after hearing heart-rending stories from war-scarred children in South Sudan.
Jerome met traumatised children last month on a fact-finding trip organised by international charity World Vision. South Sudan is the world’s youngest country, gaining independence in 2011. The East African country has been convulsed by a five-year long civil war which has killed at least 400,000 people. Over 19,000 children have been conscripted into various armed groups.
“Children told me about unimaginable horrors they had seen and experienced,” Jerome says. “Some children were kidnapped by armed groups and forced to fight and kill and watch other children get killed for not keeping up. Others fled torched homes and villages and sought refuge in camps for displaced people, with little food and no education. Many lost mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters and were forced to make choices no child should have to make, just to survive.
"I met families torn apart because of the conflict and talked to parents who had sons and daughters snatched from them,” he continued. At times I found their stories of what they had to endure almost too painful to bear.
“Yet I also saw hope in a country ripped apart by war. Dedicated World Vision aid workers are helping desperate families stitch their lives together amid the chaos. I was blown away by the resilience of the children, humbled by their spirit, and inspired by their determination to find happiness.
“I saw how war costs children their innocence but does not always destroy their childhoods. The bravery of the children I met will stay with me forever.”
Full-blown conflict is likely to flare up again in South Sudan unless a national army of government and rebel forces is formed by May 12. More children and young people could then be forced into the bush to take up arms or flee the fighting.
Jerome says: “South Sudan’s latest peace deal is on a short fuse and the situation is desperate. Help is needed urgently to protect children from further violence. Sadly, there are thousands of children across the world who need support right now. Please give generously to help them.”
Jerome’s trip forms part of World Vision’s Made for More appeal for funds to protect the world’s most vulnerable children.
World Vision - alongside faith-based NGO’s: CAFOD, Christian Aid, Islamic Relief and Tearfund – called on faith communities across the UK to support the Disasters Emergency Committee’s (DEC) appeal to help 16 million people affected by drought and conflict in East Africa.
The situation in East Africa is critical. Earlier today, Simon Nyabwengi, World Vision Somalia national director, told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show that children are dying from preventable conditions – namely acute watery diarrhoea. Thousands of people are trekking tens of kilometres to find help. One women he met near the town of Baidoa had two children die en route. She buried them and was then forced to continue on to help save her remaining children.
“Our biggest fear is that there are more dead and starving children in the rebel-held rural areas that we cannot access,” he continued.
Chine McDonald, our Head of Christian Influence & Engagement, called on our church partners to walk alongside the most vulnerable children and their families.
Children in East Africa are dying every day because they have no food. There is no time to waste. We urge church leaders to support this Appeal and encourage congregations this Sunday to open their hearts and dig deep into their pockets. We cannot stand by and watch as children starve to death.
- Chine Mcdonald | Head of Christian influence and Engagement WVUK