Appeal as war leaves millions hungry

Children enjoy marys meals at mazzolari school, south sudan web

Mary's Meals is looking for increased support to help the children of South Sudan

6th June 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

An emergency appeal has been launched to help children in a war torn African nation.

Scottish charity Mary’s Meals has this week launched a campaign calling for help to reach desperately hungry children caught up in the worsening crisis in South Sudan.

The fighting is forcing families from their homes, schools are being destroyed and 6.3 million people are facing a hunger crisis.

As the lean season between harvests approaches, this figure is expected to rise and more than seven million people – almost two thirds of the population – could soon be at risk.

Mary’s Meals has been present in South Sudan since 2008 and is already reaching 20,520 vulnerable children in the country with life-saving daily school meals.

The charity is one of the few organisations providing reliable and consistent food delivery to schools in the country, working alongside its local partner organisation, the Diocese of Rumbek, to feed desperately hungry children at 40 schools in Rumbek, Yirol and Mapuordit in the Lakes state, a region that has been plagued with persistent violence and food insecurity.

Now more hungry children are turning to Mary’s Meals for help as rising numbers of families arrive in the area where the charity is working, having fled from other parts of the country. During this time of crisis in South Sudan, the daily meal provided is not just a powerful incentive to come to school, but it is also a vital lifeline for vulnerable children in need of nourishment.

Moses Kopurot Kenyi, education coordinator for the Diocese of Rumbek, said: “It’s a terrible situation. Many of the children are displaced or without their parents. They are very traumatised.

“There is a lot of hunger and people are just eating leaves from trees. Mary’s Meals’ feeding programme is helping us a lot. For these children, there is no other source of food.

“Education is really important for helping to build peace. Without education, the situation will never change and the division and anger will still be there..”

With one in three schools in South Sudan destroyed or forced to close since the conflict broke out, 72% of primary school-age children across the country are missing out on an education – the highest rate in the world.

However, enrolment at schools serving Mary’s Meals is increasing. According to league tables published this February, Daniel Comboni Primary School – the largest school in which Mary’s Meals operates in Rumbek – is ranked the highest performing in the whole country.

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, global chief executive and founder of Mary’s Meals, said: “The plight of children in South Sudan is truly heartbreaking.

“For them, the promise of a daily school meal has never been more important. Those delivering food to schools in South Sudan are telling us that heavy rain has flooded roads, making it impossible to reach some schools by car. Instead, they are carrying the heavy sacks of food on foot, sometimes over great distances, because they know how much the children in those villages need it.”

Through the Crisis in South Sudan campaign, the charity is appealing for support to ensure it can keep its promise to the children who already depend on its school feeding programme, and as funds allow, expand to reach even more.