Christmas help for refugees of hunger and conflict in east Africa
'A scary and risky venture!'
These were the words which our local partners in east Africa used to describe Christmas, as they worked to deliver food supplies to refugee camps, and organised seasonal celebrations for children.
Thanks to generous appeal donations, our partner's teams were able to deliver truck-loads of essential foods and cooking ingredients - a real blessing to people in great need at Christmas.
Workers arranged Christmas celebrations for children
Yet their work was carried out in light of the increasing risks now involved. Aid workers in the region have recently been kidnapped, while grenade attacks have caused fatalities including within the refugee camps themselves. These events are linked to ongoing activities of Al-Shabaab militants from Somalia in border regions of Kenya where the camps are located.
"Thank you for your prayers for us, and support that has enabled us to provide this service," says Rev. Canon F-, leader of the partner involved, in his report detailing the arrival of two further truck-loads of maize flour, beans, oil and sugar. "This will go a long way to support lives at the camp.
"On 20th December, we began preparations for Christmas week celebrations for the refugees. It began with children's programmes and parties, gathering in a community church. All their teachers and parents were pleased to take part.
"It is vital to create normalcy among them at this time of great tension. We had been barred from gathering in big groups, so we split them into several groups gathering in different camps.
Aftermath of one of the blasts
"While the parties were going on, there was another blast. This time it was a grenade, and in I- camp where we were gathered! This one was targetted at security patrols. Only a day before, a land-mine blew up a police truck, killing two people."
"We are obviously not safe here!", our partners observed in their report of 27 December, in which their paramount concern for safety of staff and refugees is clearly evident.
With these and blasts at other camps bringing into question the safety of staff, our partners report that agencies are increasingly withdrawing personnel.
"With the blast, no-one wanted to commit staff here for distribution of food," say our partners. "(A major agency) who had the responsibility to do this, withdrew staff and are now delaying the ration distribution until further notice.
"What are the refugees to do?" ask our partners. "We had to honour our commitment, and bring food to over 1,000 families we have been responsible for. We wanted our giving to co-incide with Christmas.
"In this, we have answered a desperate call for food," conclude our partners. "This is what they will have for the next while."
Please continue to pray for the safety of our partner workers and those whom they are helping. While media attention has lessened, the suffering caused by hunger and conflict in the region continues, with some areas still in a famine situation as of the end of 2011.
Please continue to support WorldShare's Africa Food Appeal. Your gifts will be used by our partners as efficiently and wisely as possible in the light of the current risks involved, to bring help and hope to more affected people.
WAYS TO DONATE
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Thank you for your generous support.
November 2011 update - 'Seeds of hope amidst crisis'
Slideshow of earlier food distributions