At the meeting at Lambeth Palace, hosted by Archbishop Rowan Williams on behalf of the Anglican Alliance, people responding to the crisis in the Horn of Africa set out their hopes for the long term future of the region.
The three biggest problems for people in the region were seen to be:
- Famine – with 13.5 million in urgent need of food aid
- Conflict – which has tipped the drought into famine
- Refugee flows – which the Archbishop described as the “unprecedented mobility of the vulnerable.”
There was a commitment from the meeting to work together to ease the crisis, building on existing regional structures and platforms. Earlier this year the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa and the Anglican Alliance brought together faith leaders from across Africa to press regional leaders for action on the food crisis.
Archbishop Rowan said this was an area in which faith communities could deliver. “Faith communities together can make a solid and coherent point about small-hold farmers, about the role of women, about steady incremental education and development.”
Included at the meeting were Christian Aid, Islamic Relief, Muslim Aid and Oxfam, and representatives from the Anglican Church in Africa and the Muslim community in Britain. Also present were government officials, representatives from the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance and UK Parliament, the Royal African Society and journalists.
In his concluding remarks, the Archbishop made the following suggestions:
- an effective interfaith coalition to create a platform for small-holders and women farmers
- inter faith monitoring of enterprises such as arms traffic and the extractive industries, with advocacy and public awareness programmes
- government co-operation in the region to help pastoralist communities
- long-term international action in disaster risk management – with sufficient funding.
The Anglican Alliance will work with partners to take the initiative forward.