This Easter remember our high responsibility
This Easter there are millions of people at risk of starvation in Yemen, South Sudan and other conflict areas. It is our great calling to come to their aid.
When famine threatened to kill millions in the Netherlands during the Second World War, the U.S., Britain, Canada and the allies responded with life-saving food aid.
We should expect no less a response today to the famine threat. In Yemen, a civil war has caused extreme hunger in an already impoverished country. The fighting between a Saudi Arabia led coalition against the Houthi rebels has led to 85,000 children dying of hunger, according to Save the Children.
The UN World Food Program says “Some 20 million people — 70 per cent of the population — are so food insecure that they do know where their next meal is coming from.” The international community must build peace and feed the hungry in Yemen.
While Yemen is the largest hunger emergency ongoing, there are others where help is urgently needed.
The civil war in Syria has left about 8-in-10 people living in poverty. The World Food Program (WFP) is needing funds for its massive relief operation there. Like Yemen, Syria has been on the brink of famine and needs a lasting peace.
South Sudan, also plagued by internal conflict, needs food and peace in the worst way. Seven million people there could face hunger this year. The WFP says, “This includes some 30,000 people who are already experiencing extreme food insecurity (in catastrophe phase or IPC5, the highest level of food insecurity) in Jonglei and Lakes states, in eastern and central South Sudan.”
WFP, Catholic Relief Services and other relief agencies need our support to feed South Sudan’s war victims. No peace process will succeed if people are starving.
In the Central African Republic food is vital to reinforcing peace efforts. For victims of Cyclone Idai in Southern Africa, our help will be crucial to recovering their lives and farmland.
While most of us are far away from these disasters, ways to help are always close at hand. Setting up fundraisers is of course one way and draws much attention to the plight of the hungry.
WFP, Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children, Mercy Corps and others depend on funding from governments and the public. With enough funding they can reach more people in Yemen and other hunger crisis areas.
School meals should be expanded to many more nations. Providing food at school fights hunger and promotes education. Catholic Relief Services is providing school meals in war-torn Mali.
Feeding the hungry must be a top priority and our calling inspired by Easter. Nothing is more important for world peace than ending hunger.
Now is our time for action.
William Lambers is an author who partnered with the UN World Food Program and Catholic Relief Services on the book .