Famine in the Horn of Africa has claimed tens of thousands of lives and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes, according to the United Nations. An estimated 12.4 million people are endangered by the crisis.
"We have had a flood of inquiries from churches and individuals about how they can help people in desperate need in Africa," said Jeff Palmer, executive director of Baptist Global Response. "We've been able to talk with them about the 'red alert' crisis in the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund, but haven't been able to offer them much by way of information about relief efforts underway or media resources to help raise support."
The "red alert" crisis in the World Hunger Fund has emerged as giving to the fund has sharply declined. The overseas portion of the hunger relief fund is down to $4.1 million dollars -- enough to meet the needs of Southern Baptist international hunger projects for just six months, apart from response to the Africa crisis. Southern Baptists donated $4.3 million to the World Hunger Fund in 2010, only 40 percent of what they gave during a 12-month span a decade earlier and the lowest donations to the fund have been in 20 years.
Part of the problem has been that the crisis is located in a part of the world that is difficult, even dangerous, to access, Palmer said. Getting projects underway has been a challenge for even the largest humanitarian groups in a crisis that has hit Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda and Djibouti.
"We are delighted to report that one feeding site is operating and assessments are in process in two other locations," Palmer said. "We are going places that few other organizations can go, and we are able to do this in a large part due to the generosity of Southern Baptists and their contributions to the World Hunger Fund."
The Horn of Africa famine will be a continuing, long-term problem, Palmer added.
"Humanitarian partners on the ground are saying the people are very responsive to the expressions of God's love they are seeing and hearing," Palmer said. "But the scope of this crisis is enormous and rooted in long-term environmental and social problems. Please keep praying that God would raise up a multitude of Christians to help these people in their time of need."
The multimedia slideshow is available at www.vimeo.com/africastories/famine-imb.
Compiled by Baptist Press senior writer and assistant editor Mark Kelly. Donations designated for the Horn of Africa crisis can be made through the International Mission Board at www.imb.org. Resources for promoting the World Hunger Fund can be found at www.worldhungerfund.com. Baptist Global Response is on the Web at www.gobgr.org.
Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net