Anglican Archbishop on East Africa Food Crisis

“Collaboration Between Faith Communities Is … Central to Peace Building”

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 8, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is the message sent by the Anglican Archbishop William Rowan of Canterbury to the meeting on the food crisis in the Horn of Africa convened by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum in Rome on Friday.

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Your Eminence, beloved Brothers and Sisters, Dear Friends

It is an agonizing indictment on the world to find ourselves once again staring into the face of famine: the human face, the face of the young and the vulnerable who die on the journey to find food, where communities are shattered, and deprived of their means of survival. In the face of those who hunger and thirst we discover the face of Christ.

In the 1980s we said, “Never again” — so it must be with renewed passion and commitment that we seek effective and enduring responses to end the intolerable scandal of recurring famine in our world. It is a privilege to be invited to bring an Anglican perspective to this meeting of major charitable organizations convened by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. My prayers are with you, as you seek to raise renewed awareness of the disaster in the Horn of Africa and identify solutions to emerging challenges.

This crisis demonstrates the crucial importance of connecting humanitarian action and development interventions, to help build the resilience of communities to withstand and recover from shocks, man-made and natural, including conflict and climate change. Faith communities have a distinctive role to play in this: they are present as an integral part of local communities long before a crisis emerges, and they remain during the emergency and beyond, after the humanitarian agencies have left. They are therefore an essential component of the architecture of community resilience. As we have witnessed in the Sudan peace process, collaboration between faith communities is also central to peace building in nations.

Once again, many lessons can be learned from this crisis: the importance of preparing and strengthening the capacity of communities to prevent or mitigate disasters and to cope with future, and often predicted, emergencies; the importance of an early warning system which is backed up by the international capacity and funds for an early response; the importance of building on viable existing structures in communities and strengthening accountable governance.

In August, the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa convened an ecumenical meeting in Nairobi to discuss the current emergency and responses from the faith communities. Their resolutions included collaborative action to open up the humanitarian space to reach vulnerable communities within Somalia. They also focused on the need for an integrated regional strategy to help pastoralist and marginalized communities to develop secure livelihoods. The Anglican Church of Kenya has also highlighted the urgency of getting seed to the areas bordering the crisis, so that subsistence farmers can plant this month and prevent the emergency spreading. These issues reflect crucial aspects of the short and long-term solutions to the crisis.

I am therefore pleased to be able to send a director of Christian Aid, Mr David Pain, as a delegate to this significant meeting. The Anglican Churches in Great Britain and Ireland are sponsoring churches of Christian Aid. The Anglican Church of Kenya is also a long-standing Christian Aid partner. They are working closely on the humanitarian response through the ACT Alliance and on the long-term development solutions to the food crisis in the Horn of Africa. I witnessed some of this vital work on my provincial visit to the Anglican Church of Kenya in June this year. Therein lie seeds of hope.

It is my hope and prayer that this meeting will bring fresh energy and focus to the crisis, that it will establish new opportunities for ecumenical collaboration and that it will lead to actions which deliver tangible and enduring impact in vulnerable communities — so that they can say with confidence, alongside a committed international community, “Never again.”

From Lambeth Palace, 5 October 2011

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