As drought and famine grip East Africa, stricken Christians cry for help
"We are appealing for food aid to help us against this ravaging drought," cried Canon Christopher Chochoi from East Pokot, Kenya, which is enduring its worst drought for five decades. There has been no rain since June 2016. "Cattle, donkeys and camels have died before our own eyes," continued Canon Chochoi. "Humans are faced with starvation … [they] have now resorted to boiling and eating wild fruit. They boil the fruits for several hours to remove poison before eating them … I doubt we will survive in the next few months."
From the nearby Diocese of Marsabit, Rev. Jeremiah Omar reports that 70% of the livestock are already dead from drought – a disaster for the many nomadic communities in the area.
"We are being overwhelmed with refugees from South Sudan."
Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, Archbishop of the Church of Uganda
The whole of northern Kenya and parts of its coastal region are suffering from drought.
An added problem is that many of the worst affected areas – in the north and the coastal region – are the places where Christians are a despised, marginalized and oppressed minority amongst a Muslim majority.
Deaths expected in Uganda
Parts of neighboring Uganda are also affected. Two consecutive crops have failed due to abnormally heavy and destructive rains which were followed by drought, due to the El-Niño climatic effect. Deaths from malnutrition are expected to start this month. There will be no relief until June at the earliest, and then only if the rains have come at the right time.
Uganda has absorbed over half a million refugees from South Sudan since last July. Mostly women and children, they are fleeing the conflict there and include many widows and women who do not know what has happened to their husbands. "Many people have very little apart from their clothes they are wearing … people were robbed by armed gangs as they were travelling and lost all their possessions," said Rev. Canon Nason Baluku, Coordinator of Planning, Development and Rehabilitation for the Province of the Church of Uganda, which is seeking to assist the refugees.
"Please pray with us that the long rains [normally starting in March/April] come early and that God provides for His people."
Canon Christopher Chochoi
An appeal from:
Archbishop Stanley Ntagali
Primate of the Church of Uganda
Archbishop Nicholas Okoh
Primate of All Nigeria, Church of Nigeria
Archbishop Ben Kwashi
Archbishop of Jos, Church of Nigeria
Lord Carey of Clifton
former Archbishop of Canterbury, 1991-2002
Archbishop Peter Jensen
General Secretary of GAFCON
Lord Donald Curry of Kirkharle
Member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on South Sudan
Bishop Keith Sinclair
Bishop of Birkenhead
Bishop Rod Thomas
Bishop of Maidstone
Bishop Robert and Mrs Sue Martin
formerly Bishop of Marsabit, Anglican Church of Kenya and Honorary Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Bath and Wells, Church of England
Prebendary Richard Bewes
Prebendary of St Paul's Cathedral, London and former rector of All Souls Langham Place
Rev'd Paul Perkin
Vicar of St Mark's Battersea Rise, London
Canon Dr Vinay Samuel
Church of South India, Canon of St Paul's Cathedral, Embu, Kenya
Canon Dr Chris Sugden
Canon St Luke's Cathedral, Jos, Nigeria and St Anselm's Cathedral, Sunyani, Ghana.
Editor, Church of England Newspaper