(LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), together with other non-governmental organizations (NGOs), is calling on the international community to urgently increase efforts to alleviate the dire humanitarian situation in South Sudan.
An appeal signed by 60 humanitarian NGOs including the LWF calls on United Nations (UN) member states at the Humanitarian Pledging Conference for South Sudan on 20 May 2014 in Oslo, Norway, to “urgently focus on clear and immediate actions to provide assistance to the people of South Sudan.”
According to UN reports, the conflict, which started five months ago, has displaced 1.3 million people. More than 4 million people, including 2.5 million children, are extremely vulnerable to food insecurity. A recent UN report speaks of an alarming increase in atrocities in various sites.
On 20 May, the international community will convene in Norway with the purpose of addressing the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.
Prior to the convention, the LWF and 59 other organizations from the South Sudan NGO forum are proposing “Seven Steps to Assisting the People of South Sudan,” especially stressing the necessity to widen humanitarian space and to protect the people of South Sudan.
“Aid workers have been killed, and thousands of national staff are unable to work in many areas due to fear of being targeted,” the appeal states. “This is significantly undermining the humanitarian response.”
The statement calls for:
On Friday, 9 May, a ceasefire agreement was signed between South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. The agreement stipulated a cessation of hostilities within 24 hours and humanitarian access to the thousands afflicted by the conflict.
“We must use this chance to push for access to help the many people who have had to flee during this conflict, people who are in desperate need of immediate food and protection,” said Eberhard Hitzler, director of the LWF’s Department for World Services.
“I hope and pray that the ceasefire will hold so that people can return to their homes and start re-building their lives.”
The LWF has been working in South Sudan for over three decades in the areas of sustainable development and education. Since the crisis broke out in December, the LWF has been engaged in the humanitarian response, distributing basic items for people who have fled and lost all in the wake of the outbreak of hostilities.
In “A Message of Solidarity with the Church in South Sudan” issued on 9 May, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), both LWF member churches, joined their Anglican and Episcopal sister churches in urging members of their respective denominations to pray for peace and for the people of South Sudan and Sudan.
“Our partners in South Sudan have suffered massive casualties. Their people have been murdered, raped, tortured, and burned out of their homes. Churches and entire villages have been destroyed. In spite of extensive displacement, Anglicans/Episcopalians and Lutherans continue to be active in relief and peace-making efforts through our partners in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, and the Lutheran World Federation,” said the message, signed by ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson.
“We urge you to join in prayer for the people of South Sudan and Sudan, for a lasting and meaningful peace, and for immediate aid and response to the needs of the myriad of displaced persons,” said the message.