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Churches unite to help starving millions

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: Fundraisers join forces to launch a campaign

FAITH LEADERS in Birmingham are joining forces to raise funds as the world faces the worst famine since 1945 with 20 million people threatened by starvation in north east Nigeria, Yemen, Somalia and South Sudan.

In a clarion call to churches across the west midlands and the rest of the UK, senior clerics are urging people to wake up to the global crisis affecting several generations across four countries.

The catastrophe has been flagged up by the United Nations which is warning that unless at least £5 billion is found by July millions will simply starve to death, with many more suffering and dying from disease.

Steve O’Brien, a senior UN official warned that unless these funds materialised ‘children would be stunted by severe malnutrition and would not be able to go to school, gains in economic development would be reversed and livelihoods, futures and hope lost.’

O’Brien said that the biggest humanitarian crisis was in Yemen where well over half of the population – more than 18 million people – need aid.

In north-east Nigeria a UN humanitarian co-ordinator said last month that malnutrition is so bad that some adults are too weak to walk and in some communities all toddlers have died.

Rev. Canon Eve Pitts, priest in charge at the Anglican Holy Trinity Church in Birchfield, Birmingham, called an emergency meeting asking church leaders to mobilise their congregations.

Those who attended the meeting included members of the New Testament Church of God, the Church of God of Prophecy, the Assemblies of the First Born Church and Perry Beeches Baptists.

Rev. Pitts hopes that more denominations from all faiths will come on board as the scheme grows, with a major fund raising day planned on Easter Sunday.

She said:

“We don’t want to terrorise people but we have to act and do what we can to help this famine relief – and we have to work together, while also being accountable. This is a global catastrophe on an unimaginable scale."

Dr. Joe Aldred, well-known broadcaster and ecumenist, who is also leading the project, urged churches to donate collected funds to authentic charities such as Christian Aid, Tearfund, or the independent charity Renewal Advancement Financial Freedom Autonomy (RAFFA), an international development agency.

A small working group of six volunteers is now working to co-ordinate the project. Anyone who can help is urged to contact Rev. Eve Pitts at blackuhru@aol.com or 0121 356 4241. Dr. Aldred can also be contacted at joealdred@btopenworld.com or 07775 632288.

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