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Pray for peace and peace-builders as half a million children starve in Yemen

Posted on: December 23, 2016 4:24 PM
Young boys pose for a photograph in the Yemen town of Jibla.
Photo Credit: Rod Waddington / Flickr

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The Anglican Alliance says that the ongoing conflict in Yemen is causing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, and is encouraging Anglicans to respond to emergency appeals by Christian agencies working in the country. “More than 7 million people in Yemen do not know where their next meal will come from,” the agency said. “Children are dying from malnutrition. 500,000 children are starving and 3 million people have fled their homes. Now half of the population – 14.4 million people – require help with food.”

The Archdeacon in the Gulf, the Ven Canon Bill Schwartz, has oversight of the Anglican Church in Yemen for the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, part of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. In a message to the Anglican Alliance, he said: ““The people of Yemen are victims of political aspirations of their own leaders and countries nearby, and are suffering immensely because of this civil war.

“It is heart breaking to live with the fact that so little can be done until the factions stop fighting, but at the same time it is essential that aid and development plans are in place so that help can be offered when it becomes possible.

“Please pray for wisdom, co-operation, and co-ordination between the various governmental and non-governmental organisations who can work together to minister to the needy in Yemen.”

The Anglican Alliance said that “even before the recent conflict, Yemen was one of the world’s least developed countries and the poorest and most rural country in the Middle East. The conflict, with deadly airstrikes and fighting on the ground, has led to the destruction of infrastructure, including healthcare. It has brought the Yemeni people to a point of total crisis, with famine looming.”

The Anglican church in Yemen – Christ Church, Aden – has operated the Ras Morbat Clinic providing healthcare for the poorest Yemeni refugee patients since 1996. But the grave security situation meant that the church was closed in February 2015. The clinic closed a few weeks later. The diocese is looking for support to re-open the clinic when the situation allows, to “bring hope and healing to those in desperate need of care,” the Anglican Alliance said.

“There is an urgent need for support to get nutrition to babies and young children so they can survive – as well as medicines, safe water, sanitation, hygiene kits and other essential items for the wider population.

“Some humanitarian agencies, including Christian Aid and Tearfund, are working with local partners to reach millions of people across the country with lifesaving support, but much more must be done to bring aid and save lives.

“Despite the challenges of delivering aid in the midst of conflict, much is getting through working via local groups so that it reaches those in critical need on both sides of the conflict,” the Anglican Alliance said.

The United Nations Children’s Fund, Unicef, said that 2.2 million children in yemen are malnourished in what they call “a major humanitarian crisis.” They say that the health system is in near collapse and there is urgent need of food, water, medical supplies and safe places for children to learn and play.

The agency estimates that nearly 10,000 children under five may have died from preventable diseases in the past year.

In addition to supporting the Christian agencies working in Yemen, the Anglican Alliance is calling on people to “pray for the peace in Yemen, for its people and the ministry of the Church.”

In his message to the Anglican Alliance, Archdeacon Scharwtz said that it was “encouraging” to find people interested in the work of the church and its clinic in Yemen. He asked for “friends from across the Anglican Communion and beyond to pray:

  • for peace

  • for peacebuilders, who are few

  • for conviction among those who exploit others for their personal gain

  • for the starving children

  • for the forgotten homeless millions

  • that there will be a will to help rebuild the country, the people, and the church in Aden – when the senseless violence ceases.”

The Anglican Alliance has suggested a number of ways in which people can support the Christian response to the crisis.

You can make a donation to the Ras Morbat Clinic through the diocesan web page; and send an email to the diocesan financial officer to indicate that your donation is for the Ras Morbat Clinic.

In the UK, Christian agencies like Christian Aid and Tearfund are part of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), which brings together leading age agencies with the media to co-ordinate emergency appeals. The DEC has launched a specific appeal for the crisis in Yemen.

Many provincial Anglican aid and development agencies, including the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) in Canada, and Anglican Overseas Aid in Australia, are members of the ACT Alliance, which brings together 143 Christian agencies across different denominations. The ACT-Alliance is supporting refugees arriving in Djibouti from Yemen – you can support this work through your local ACT-Alliance member.

“Thank you for your prayers and support at this crucial time for the people of Yemen,” the Anglican Alliance said.