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PRESS RELEASE

AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED CANADA – REACTION : #zerofamine

Montreal, Tuesday May 30, 2017—Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) welcomes very favourably, the news from the federal government who yesterday created the Famine Relief Fund (#zerofamine) in order to combat this tragedy more particularly in South Sudan, in the northeastern part of Nigeria and in Yemen and Somalia.

“The news is very bad and confirms what we have been hearing from our project partners for some months about the lack of food and the famine moving in,” announced Marie-Claude Lalonde, the director of the Canadian office of Aid to the Church in Need.

“What is troubling is that in the case of all these countries, it is conflicts provoked by war between different factions causing this tragedy. South Sudan, where the famine has resulted in great part due to the grip of the civil war since 2013, is a good example of this.”

In February of last year, in fact, Aid to the Church in Need reported that the South Sudanese bishops had denounced the situation. They recalled one of the sources of the famine being: the impossibility for villagers to work or harvest their lands because of the presence governmental or opposition fighters, who practiced a “scorched earth” policy. They considered, “everything a form of collective punishment, which is banned and considered to be a war crime according to the Geneva Convention.”

 

In 2015, the local Church in Nigeria already gave help to IDP’s fleeing Boko Haram.

An 800% Inflation rate

A South Sudanese pastoral worker, who wishes to remain anonymous for security reasons, also told Aid to the Church in Need that the problem could take on a new scale if the international community did nothing. “It is extremely difficult to find food and to get money to pay for merchandise … now very expensive merchandise,” he said. Early in the year during the interview, inflation had already risen to 800 percent!

This same person also accused the leaders of different tribes—still of great importance to the South Sudanese society—to fight only “for political power and money (oil, wood, mineral resources). These elites worry more about their own advantages than the well-being of the people, many of whom are dying of hunger,” he denounced.

In 2015, the local Church in Nigeria had already provided help to IDP’s fleeing Boko Haram.

For many years, Aid to the Church in Need has supported the local Church in South Sudan and in Nigeria, particularly in the dioceses touched by the violence of the civil war and by Boko Haram.

 

Photo: South Sudan, January 2017, in the IDP’s camp of Riimenze

 

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