East Africa famine relief cash welcomed

Right Rev Dr Russell Barr
Dr Barr surrounded by pupils and staff at the Mother Esther School as he prepares to break the ground for a water borehole.

The Moderator of the General Assembly has welcomed an announcement that the Scottish Government has donated £200,000 towards famine relief in East Africa.

Right Rev Dr Russell Barr said he was "delighted" that the money will benefit the Disasters Emergency Committee’s East Africa Crisis Appeal, which was launched yesterday.

The appeal will support those affected by famine in parts of South Sudan, where more than 4.9 million people currently do not have enough food to eat.

Caused by more than three years of conflict and violence, the situation in South Sudan has displaced millions of people and been exacerbated by severe drought.

The situation is also affecting neighbouring countries including Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, with 16 million people in need of food, water and medical treatment.

Rivers empty of water

Dr Barr said "I have just returned from a visit to Kenya where I experienced at first hand something of the drought conditions affecting the horn of Africa

"As we travelled north of Nairobi, much of the land was dry and dusty and the river beds lay empty of water.

"The rib cages of cattle and goats were visible through the sides of the animals and the ground they were grazing looked devoid of grass.

"The further north we travelled to Nakuru and beyond, the more people were speaking about the drought conditions and the suffering it was causing.

"I visited the Mother Esther school for rescued girls in the Maasai area where I was invited to break the ground for a borehole which funding from the Church of Scotland’s World Mission Council will help to sink.

"Given what I saw and heard, I was delighted to read today that the Scottish Government has donated £200,000 to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s East Africa Crisis Appeal

"Although the money will support people affected by famine in parts of South Sudan where starvation threatens almost 5 million people, it is clear people in the whole region are under threat."

The Church of Scotland has a strong relationship with the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, which runs the Mother Esther boarding school.

It hosts girls saved from early marriage and Female Genital Mutilation. (FGM).

Mother Esher
The sign marks the spot where the water borehole will be dug.

The Disasters Emergency Committee brings together 13 leading UK Aid agencies (including Christian Aid) and you can donate at www.dec.org.uk

Good global citizen

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "The UN has warned there is an urgent need for humanitarian response to prevent thousands of people dying from starvation.

"The funding we’re donating will help provide emergency food, safe drinking water, life-saving nutritional support and emergency healthcare to those affected.

“The Scottish Government is clear we have a responsibility to be a good global citizen and support those in crisis elsewhere in the world.

"I encourage the people of Scotland to also consider supporting the DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal in whatever ways they can.”

Neil Mathers, chairman of DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal in Scotland, said the donation will make a "real difference" to children and young families already suffering from the famine and food crisis in the region.