World Refugee Day
More than coincidence that we should be on our way to Ethiopia to visit South Sudanese refugees today, on this World Refugee Day. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported this week that there are more than 65 million refugees and displaced persons globally as of the end of 2015. Nearly one third of them are in the African region we will be visiting. South Sudan, the world’s newest country, ranks third behind Syria and Afghanistan in number of refugees. There are now six or more camps in the Gambella region and we hope to visit four of them. The U.N. reports that there are around 375,000 South Sudanese registered in the Ethiopian camps. There are many more awaiting registration. Presbyterian partners in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), have welcomed their Sudanese neighbors and are doing their best to assist them. Many members of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS) have been separated from their families, homes and congregations since the civil conflict restarted in December 2013.
One of the objectives of this trip will be to listen and plan a training session on trauma healing. All refugees have been traumatized. While several international agencies provide physical and nutritional care to refugees, partner churches are well-placed to provide psycho-social and spiritual support to help heal the wounds of trauma. Please contribute to this effort as we prepare to train teachers and pastors to help children and adults. Another exciting opportunity on this visit will be to deliver four sets of musical instruments for youth worship in the refugee camps, and preparing for the distribution of over 9,000 Bibles in local language.
Presbyterians in the U.S. can help by praying for peace in the region, by raising awareness of the situation and through financial support to efforts like: “Rebuilding Hope in South Sudan” an initiative of The Outreach Foundation, and other Presbyterian relief programs.
The Outreach Foundation
Africa Mission Specialist