While COVID-19 and the lockdowns and disruptions associated with it have caused grave suffering around the world, several of our partners have also been supporting people caught up in situations of violence and conflict.
Please join us in praying for our partners and the communities they are working with in some of the most challenging environments in the world.
Afghanistan, Myanmar and Ethiopia are some of the countries we at Tearfund call “hard places” – places where we feel called, through our partners, to bring God’s salt and light; to see that people receive God’s love in action. Places where people face a lack of food or income, displacement and violence. Places where poverty and injustice are overlaid by conflict, lack of security and high levels of instability. In these places, our courageous local partners are present with people and communities as they work towards hope and positive change in the face of incredible hardship.
In November 2020, the people of the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia found themselves caught up in a conflict between federal and regional government forces. The situation in this part of the country continues to be volatile and unpredictable, and ethnic violence is prevalent. It’s estimated there are at least four million displaced people across the country.
Tearfund’s partners, the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church Development Commission (EKHCDC) and Tearfund Ethiopia, have led emergency responses to provide food and shelter to thousands of internally displaced people.
In the conflict-affected Afar region to Tigray’s east, Tearfund’s partners have provided thousands of households with food support and women with hygiene materials. In the Amhara region south of Tigray, public infrastructure (including water supplies), livelihoods and basic services have been severely disrupted or destroyed. Many women and girls have experienced horrific sexual violence. EKHCDC reports that people are suffering serious psychological trauma and are in need of support. They are providing food aid as well as water and hygiene services, and various rehabilitation programs to support people to return to their homes and livelihoods.
Staff however share that the future looks very difficult for people in the region: “The size and magnitude of the damage is too immense to bring back the community and the lost public sectors to their normal setups. The damage here has left all people – the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ – in the same categories and is assumed to take years to restore the loss.”
Over the course of last year, the people of Afghanistan endured yet more political upheaval and violence, compounding the challenges of extreme drought – the worst in nearly three decades – as well as food insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 4.2 million people are internally displaced and the humanitarian situation in the country is dire, with its people having just endured a particularly harsh winter. Half of the population is already in need of humanitarian support, and it’s estimated that as much as 97 per cent of the population could be living below the poverty line by the middle of this year1.
The work of our partners that Tearfund usually supports was put on hold in August 2021 after the change in government in Afghanistan. In January 2022, we received the good news that the Australian Government had given approval for humanitarian funding transfers to Afghanistan. We are now working with our partners to support their humanitarian work.
The twin crises of the military coup of 1 February 2021 and the COVID-19 pandemic have driven a humanitarian, economic and health crisis in Myanmar, significantly setting back the country’s progress in tackling poverty.
One year on from the coup, the security and humanitarian situation in Myanmar remains volatile, with civilians bearing the brunt of ongoing armed clashes between the Myanmar Armed Forces and Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs) and/or various Peoples Defence Forces, as well as between EAOs, in multiple states and regions
The ongoing conflict, particularly in ethnic minority areas, as well as severe socio-economic disruptions, are exacerbating food insecurity and malnutrition. As of 27 December 2021, UNHCR estimated 320,900 people remain displaced across Myanmar due to clashes and insecurity since 1 February 20212. This is in addition to the 340,000 people living in protracted displacement before February 2021.
The economic and political turmoil of 2021 is projected to have driven almost half the population into poverty heading into 2022, and poverty rates could return to their highest level since 2005.
In the aftermath of the coup, the government health system in Myanmar is struggling. Tearfund’s partner World Concern Myanmar is working to support a network of local NGOs and churches as they try to fill this gap and provide vital health care and resources.
Please continue to pray for the people of Afghanistan and our partners – for their physical safety and emotional wellbeing. Our partners will continue to respond to the needs of vulnerable displaced families through the provision of emergency food, hygiene supplies, blankets and education support for children. Pray that our partners in Afghanistan will be able to continue to meet the needs of vulnerable families despite the challenges that they face in their own lives, and that those who face particularly high risk will be granted visas.
This week, it is one full year since the military coup in Myanmar. Please continue to pray for our partners in Myanmar and the communities they work with as conflict and COVID-19 continue to claim lives and contribute to livelihoods insecurity and disrupted health services. Please especially pray for our partners who are working to provide relief to affected families, and partners who are reshaping their programs so that they can work more effectively in these difficult circumstances.
In November 2020, the people of the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia found themselves caught up in a conflict between federal and regional government forces. The nationwide state of emergency that came into force in November 2021 has now been lifted, however the conflict continues. Please pray for peace and stability in the region. Pray for our partners who are leading emergency responses to provide food and shelter to thousands of internally displaced people, and as they consider how they can help communities recover.