“Three short months ago we encouraged continued prayer for South Sudan, as the United Nations had cautioned of the possibility that the world’s newest nation was ‘at risk of outright ethnic war and genocide being committed’. The developing food crisis in East Africa is significant and alarming,” Mr. Marrs said.
“I would encourage people to pray for the region, for rain to alleviate the current drought in particular and to pray for governments and aid agencies to intervene urgently, doing all they can to help all those facing food shortages and to prevent the situation worsening.
“Sadly the famine in parts of South Sudan is clearly due to a combination of prolonged drought and a consequence of the ongoing conflict in the country, which began in December 2013. Planting and harvesting crops over many seasons has been affected and the conflict has severely hindered the economy of the world’s newest nation.”
The Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) has close links with the country through the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan. Its Moderator was welcomed to Belfast for PCI’s 2014 General Assembly.
Famine was declared in parts of Unity State in South Sudan earlier in February – making it the first official famine in any part of the world in the past six years. The United Nations has stated that some 100,000 people are currently facing starvation, with a further million people on the brink of famine in South Sudan alone.
Kenya’s National Drought Management Authority announced last week that 2.7 million people face starvation if more help is not provided, due to poor rainfall. Somalia and parts of Ethiopia are also at risk of famine too due to the prolonged drought in the East Africa region.
“In East Africa, our church partners with the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, which is based in Kenya, and the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan. I would also encourage prayer for them at this time, in particular for their leadership as they seek to help those in need and provide pastoral care to their members in difficult circumstances,” Mr. Marrs said.