Lutheran church leader calls for political solution to drought crisis in Somalia
A political solution to the crisis in Somalia is urgently needed to stem the influx of refugees into Kenya and Ethiopia, according to the Rev. Martin Junge, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).
Junge spoke at a news conference in Nairobi on August 3, a day after visiting the Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya, where thousands of Somali refugees fleeing drought and insecurity continue to arrive.
“We heard the testimony of a 21-year-old woman with five children, who had walked for 21 days in order to reach the refugee camp in Dadaab. We can address the issues where the people are, so we don’t have them walking for so many days, taking so much risk and some of them dying, in order to receive assistance,” said Junge.
Junge and an LWF delegation travelled in Kenya for four days to show solidarity with the more than 12 million people affected by drought. The group included bishops from Tanzania and Ethiopia, and three staff members from the LWF office in Geneva.
“The conditions currently are not favourable for the LWF … given the response where the drought is happening. So I think there is a need to insist on a political solution,” said Junge.
Members of the ACT Alliance — a group of churches and humanitarian organisations of which the LWF is a member–have appealed for $20 million for Somalian refugees, according to the Rev. Eberhard Hitzler, director of LWF’s Department for World Service.
“The drought is happening in the middle of a deep economic crisis in Europe and the US, so it is a challenge to respond adequately to the crisis,” said Hitzler. “The government in Hong Kong is exploring possibilities to respond to the drought, and they are considering cooperating with NGOs within the ACT Alliance, as well as the LWF.”
“As the Lutheran church in Africa, we are very sorry about what is happening in Somalia, and about the drought in Africa,” said Tanzanian Lutheran bishop Alex Malasusa. “Conflicts on our continent are forcing more people to move from one country to another. We urge our churches to preach peace,” he said.
By Fredrick Nzwili, Ecumenical News International