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Prayer urged for South Sudan as the UN warns the country is 'one step away from famine'

by Kelly Valencia

Christians are being encouraged to pray for South Sudan as the UN has warned the country is facing "its highest levels of food insecurity and malnutrition" since it gained its independence in January 2011. 

The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has launched its response plan requesting $1.7 billion to assist 6.6 million people that are in need of life-saving assistance, especially children and pregnant women.  

Speaking to Premier, Anthony Rama, Tearfund's Country Director for South Sudan, said recent events have made the situation worse: 

"What has made that even grievous is the fact that, towards the end of last year, we experienced the worst flooding in decades. So flood and then Covid, which is just an addition to the pile of problems that we've been struggling to overcome. So really, the ask speaks to the sheer level of needs across the country suddenly."

The country gained its independence from Sudan ten years ago as part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. However, a national civil war broke out in 2013 displacing many and disrupting the ability for families to settle down and being able to farm. 

Alain Noudéhou, the Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, said: "Throughout these various shocks, the affected communities have continued to demonstrate a great sense of solidarity. I call on the Government, development partners, donors and aid organizations to match their solidarity with unwavering support."

"Our immediate priorities include sustaining our response in the most food-insecure areas and preparing for the upcoming rainy season, which is forecasted to lead once again to major floods. Thousands of humanitarian workers - most of them South Sudanese - are working tirelessly to save lives and provide humanitarian assistance to people in the areas of greatest need. But we need urgent funding to prevent a further deterioration of the situation, and we need the violence to stop so that the people of South Sudan can finally recover from the crisis and rebuild their lives," Noudéhou concluded. 

Asked how the church in the UK can stand in prayer with South Sudan, Rama said: "What I would ask for is that we continue to pray and stand in solidarity with the people of South Sudan. Our prayer is that those donors continue to give sacrificially but also continue to pray especially that we are able to continue providing assistance to about 1.4 million mothers and children that need food assistance."

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