Love in the midst of famine and suffering

Conflicts around the world, particularly in Nigeria’s northeast, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, have exacerbated a growing humanitarian crisis. More than 20 million people are facing the threat of historic famine. There is a need for urgent action by the human family, especially wealthy nations.

Unfortunately, so far the U.S. has not responded adequately. In March President Trump requested $54 billion more in overall military spending, while proposing deep cuts to international assistance and the State Department. If the cuts happen, humanitarian and development assistance, as well as peacebuilding programs, would be at risk. These programs help alleviate suffering from hunger, poverty, illness, natural disasters and violent conflict.

The president’s budget request includes a 21 percent cut for international food aid. If implemented, this cut could result in millions of people losing emergency life-saving assistance. Development, health and humanitarian assistance are in danger of being overtaken by militarized priorities.

Our call as Christians transcends a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society, as Martin Luther King said 50 years ago. Policies and politics must be for the common good. Scripture reminds us that what is good and required of us as believers is to do justice and to love kindness (Micah 6:8).

In this time of need, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) continues its work with local partners within South Sudan in food security, education and peacemaking. MCC also supports South Sudanese living in refugee camps in the Gambella region of Ethiopia and other neighboring countries. South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, faces an intractable political conflict that has claimed many lives and displaced a high number of its population since December 2013.

MCC supports programs in peacebuilding education, training, and psychosocial trauma healing. At Loreto Primary School in the village of Maker Kuei in Western Lakes State, (South Sudan) MCC helps provide food to schoolchildren and also supports a garden project, giving food to the hungry and trying to satisfy the needs of the afflicted (Isaiah 58:10). MCC’s shipment of canned meat helps supplement the diet of people in refugee camps – mostly children, pregnant women and nursing mothers.

Responding to such a dire humanitarian crisis will require the efforts of private organizations and the world’s governments. Please support MCC’s efforts and let your members of Congress know that you strongly support international poverty-focused assistance.

Charles Kwuelum is a Legislative Associate for International Affairs in the Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office. Reprinted with permission from Thirdway Cafe

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