Lutheran Disaster Response

Our response to disasters in the U.S. and around the world; look for sections of this blog related to specific disaster locations. Comments are welcomed and moderated.

West Africa: Update from LWF Amidst Worsening Drought

Posted on June 1, 2012 by Matthew Ley

Mali and surrounding countries. Credit: reliefweb

According to the World Bank more than 17 million people in the West Africa Sahel region are now facing food shortages and possible starvation. The most affected countries are Mauritania, Niger, Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso where poor rainfall and food shortages have driven the prices of staple foods beyond the ability of the poorer members of society to afford.

Along with the current situation of drought and food insecurity there has been continued violence in Mali and Niger that has forced 300,000 people from their homes. Many of these are finding refuge in neighboring countries. Almost 160,000 Malian refugees have been registered in neighboring countries. Of these over 61,000 are in Mauritania at the Lutheran World Federation-managed camp of Mbéré.

The need in the region is still great and it is believed the food security crisis will not peak until late summer/early fall. As we gather in worship and within our individual prayer life, please continue to lift up the people of this region and those who work on their behalf. In the midst of conflict and drought may God grant them strength, peace and lead them into safety.

To learn more see the links below and to give see the link at the bottom of this post.

World Bank: Drought Worsens in the Sahel Region | LWF: 16th Sitrep on the Crisis in the Sahel
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Gifts to ELCA International Disaster Response allow the church to respond globally in times of need. Donate now.

West Africa: Work of Church and Personal Stories in Senegal

Posted on May 4, 2012 by Matthew Ley

A newsrelease from the Lutheran World Federation gives an overview of the situation in Senegal during the drought affecting the Sahel region in West Africa. It touches on the work of the LWF and the Lutheran Church in Senegal to meet the needs of the local population as they deal with back-to-back years of decreased rainfall. It also tells the story of affected individuals who are struggling to sustain themselves.

The main theme is that this problem is getting worse and that local resources are already stretched. International engagement from organizations like the ACT Alliance and LWF, of which the ELCA is a member of both, can be a major player in how this situation turns out.

I would recommend taking a moment to get a bit of an insider’s view of what’s going on in the region and how gifts to ELCA Disaster Response help support the work being done on the ground through the local churches and LWF.

Read the LWF newsrelease Living Next To Nothing in Senegal’s Drought-Hit Region. (pdf)

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Gifts to ELCA International Disaster Response allow the church to respond globally in times of need. Donate now.

West Africa: 12th Situation Report from LWF

Posted on April 26, 2012 by Matthew Ley

Camp Mberre in Mauritania is run by LWF as a member of the ACT Alliance. Credit: LWF/Thomas Ekelund

A new situation report from the Lutheran World Federation includes updates on their work in Mauritania with Malian refugees at Camp Mberre and their work with the Lutheran Church in Senegal.

In Camp Mberre they are working to provide enough tents for incoming refugees, with their capacity being 300 new tents constructed each day while the influx of refugees sits between 500-1200 daily. Currently the camp population sits just under 59,000. Also, decreased security in certain regions of Mali has lead the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to announce that a massive movement of refugees is heading towards Mauritania.

In Senegal the church is working to implement a program focused on disaster prevention and risk reduction within at-risk communities in the region. They are helping to identify and train local committees to implement these programs so that the knowledge is kept at home and the skills of the local population are leveraged in their response.

As the LWF continues its work in the region please keep those who are fleeing danger and those who work to meet them in prayer during this trying time. Also pray for those who are working to prepare themselves in the face of disaster, that they may be empowered to lessen and hopefully prevent the effects of disaster.

Read the full report here.

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Gifts to ELCA International Disaster Response allow the church to respond globally in times of need. Donate now.

Advocacy: Drought Affected East and West Africa

Posted on April 5, 2012 by Matthew Ley

The following message is from the ELCA e-Advocacy list. This lists is sent out by the Advocacy office of the ELCA to inform people of the what political issues are going on and how people can get involved. This particular message is about the situation of drought in East Africa and now West Africa, how actions within the US Congress can impact the situation and how you can get involved.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Before we turn our hearts and minds to Jesus’ path to the cross and joyous resurrection this holy weekend, we can first follow Christ’s teachings by urging Congress to act on behalf of the millions in Africa living in dire insecurity and uncertainty.

Conflict, draught, and resulting food shortages have left tens of millions of people – from Sahel to Sudan to Somalia – in crisis, facing starvation and malnutrition and forced to leave their homes and relocate in refugee camps. These men, women, and children will face even greater hardship if we do not act to protect U.S. funding for the life-saving programs upon which they depend for food, clean water and secure shelter.

In the Horn of Africa

13 million people are currently living in food crisis, still suffering from the effects of last year’s drought which forced millions to leave their homes to take refuge in camps.

Meanwhile, the plight of famine has spread west, putting 15.5 million people in West Africa’s Sahel region at risk, including eight million who need emergency assistance. Over ten million already face food insecurity and an additional one million children are at risk of severe malnutrition. Chad, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger are all experiencing dangerously high malnutrition levels while in Mali alone, conflict and food shortages have displaced 100,000 people. The crisis is only expected to worsen in the coming months.

Between the crises to their east and west, Sudan and South Sudan suffer while combating their own humanitarian crises. An estimated 200,000 people have been displaced or severely affected by violence in South Kordofan, an area vulnerable to Sudan’s Armed Forces’ aerial bombing, ground attacks, sexual violence, denial of humanitarian assistance, and other tactics which some have dubbed ‘weapons of mass starvation.’ An estimated 28,000 Sudanese have been forced to relocate to South Sudan’s Yida refugee camp.

Through its membership in The Lutheran World Federation, the ELCA is participating in relief efforts with Lutheran churches and partners in these emergency crises.

Yet in the midst of these dire and enduring crises, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the House Budget Committee’s fiscal year 2013 Budget Resolution last week, which cuts the International Affairs Budget by 11 percent. The cuts include the eliminating Feed the Future and cutting the U.S. Agency for International Development’s International Disaster Assistance by 40 to 60 percent. Meanwhile, the President’s fiscal year 2013 budget request proposes cuts to essential poverty-focused programs that provide refugees and displaced people with access to food, shelter, and water, including a 13.3% cut ($250
million) to the Migration and Refugee Assistance.

CLICK HERE to tell your senators and representative to maintain funding for the International Affairs Accounts that provide essential food, water, shelter, and support to the millions of refugees around the world who have been forced to make incomprehensible sacrifices.

Want to do more? Call your senators and representatives, who are at home in your district during recess, and tell them to protect the International Affairs account from the deep, disproportionate cuts made in the House of Representatives’ FY13 Budget Resolution.

RESOURCES

West Africa: 9th LWF Situation Report on Sahel

Posted on April 5, 2012 by Matthew Ley

A new situation report from the Lutheran World Federation give an overview of the political and humanitarian situation affecting the Sahel region of West Africa that is current being affected by drought. The country of Mali is also experience internal conflict, leading to a growing refugee situation alongside the food crisis. This report looks mainly at Mauritania, Mali and Senegal as well as the actions of the LWF in the region.

You can read the report here.

For more information on the situation please visit the ELCA Disaster Response webpage West Africa Sahel Drought Relief. Here you can also find a situation report and bulletin insert to help share the story.

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Gifts to ELCA International Disaster Response allow the church to respond globally in times of need. Donate now.

West Africa: Response Before Need

Posted on March 9, 2012 by Matthew Ley

Twelve million people across five West African countries teeter on the brink of famine. Drought, crop failure, inadequate recovery from previous crises, and rising food prices have propelled the governments of Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Chad and Niger to declare states of emergency and call for international assistance.

This is the opening paragraph to an ACT Alliance story from Feb 20th. The story is an interview with Paul Valentin, director of Christian Aid, who was in Burkina Faso. Over all it is an solid piece, giving an overview of the growing crisis in the region and for this reason alone it is worth a listen.

Beyond this though, Paul has some important things towards the middle of the interview of the connection between response and media portrayal of need. Boiled down it’s a look at how we must learn better how to communicate need before pictures of starving people and animals are on the news. This is the heart of disaster risk reduction and prevention, a growing component of ELCA Disaster Response work.

The interview is just over 16 minutes long and I would highly recommend giving it a listen.

Listen to ACT eyewitness account in Sahel.