SOUTH SUDAN: Salesian Missionaries Continue Relief Work for Those Affected by Conflict and Famine
(MissionNewswire) Conflict and famine in South Sudan are severely affecting minors across the country. In March 2017, a famine was declared in parts of South Sudan. UN agencies warn that almost 5 million people urgently need food, agriculture and nutrition assistance. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) noted that ongoing war and a collapsing economy have left some 100,000 people facing starvation, and another 1 million people are classified as being on the brink of famine. In July, at the height of the lean season, this number is expected to rise to 5.5 million people if nothing is done to address the crisis.
“In two days, we weighed more than 300 children and found that more than 200 of those children, between 3 and 6 years of age, are malnourished. Of those, 170 are in a situation of a severe malnutrition,” a Salesian missionary working in Gumbo reported. “It was like a bad dream, we did not expect that the situation could be so serious. We are providing food and water and want to monitor them for two weeks and see how they develop. But all this proves the very serious situation that people live in Gumbo, as they do not have the means to access the food, not even for the younger ones.”
Salesian missionaries at Don Bosco Gumbo and across South Sudan, including Salesian Sisters with Mary Help of Christians, continue to work within their networks around the globe to access additional humanitarian aid. In Gumbo, Salesian missionaries have two camps that currently have more than 1,000 families (roughly 10,000 people) who have been displaced. They also assist hundreds of families in the surrounding neighborhood who are starving due to the present crisis. At the Salesian church compound in Wau, Salesian missionaries are providing shelter and assistance to 2,500 people and reaching out to thousands of others displaced within the city.
“At Gumbo, the situation is quieter and we continue to carry out our activities including classes with children, activities with women, an agricultural project, but in other places like at Wau and Tonj there has been looting, conflict and deaths in the past few days,” says the Salesian missionary. “However, the most curious thing is that, despite the situation, mothers and children are eager to learn and play. They have so much life. Perhaps the world leaders will realize it and change their hearts.”
Responding to the ongoing civil strife is nothing new to Salesian missionaries in South Sudan. They have been continuing their educational and social development programs in communities across the country while also responding to the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Salesian missionaries provide education, social development services, nutrition programs and health clinics for poor youth and their families. For some, the education offered at Salesian schools is the only opportunity to gain an education and the skills necessary for future employment.
Salesian missionaries across South Sudan will continue to assess this ongoing situation and work within their own global organizations and their international aid partners to bring humanitarian aid to its programs and people of South Sudan.
Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco has a special appeal to assist those in need in this part of the world. To help, go to SalesianMissions.org and select “Africa Drought Crisis Fund” on the donation page.