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Published on 26 January 2022

This Christmas, Christian Aid Ireland supporters have been highlighting the hunger crisis in flood-hit South Sudan where more than 2 million people are at risk of falling into famine. In December, supporters from across Ireland hung sandbags on their mantlepieces in place of Christmas stockings to raise money for our Christmas appeal and draw attention to the hunger emergency in the world’s youngest country.  

Among the clergy taking part were the Bishop of Cashel, the Dean of Limerick and the Provost of Tuam who switched their normal Christmas stocking for a hessian sack in a gesture of solidarity with those going hungry in South Sudan following the worst flooding the country has seen in almost 60 years.

As well as church leaders, several lay supporters of the charity took part in the action, including individuals who have helped to raise many tens of thousands to support the charity’s work overseas.

At First Antrim Presbyterian Church, retired assistant bank manager Alex Chestnutt has been supporting Christian Aid for more than 30 years. About four years ago, he became the church’s Christian Aid representative, coordinating the church’s fundraising efforts. To date, the congregation of First Antrim has donated around £300,000 to Christian Aid, making it one of the charity’s most generous congregations on the island of Ireland.

Normally deployed in flood prevention, the sandbags are a reminder that extreme weather exacerbated by climate change is a powerful driver of poverty and hunger, especially in flood-prone countries such as South Sudan.

In October, unusually heavy rainfall caused the Nile to burst its banks, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to abandon their homes and leaving huge swathes of rich farmland underwater. The flooding killed livestock and destroyed crops, worsening a food crisis which has left 2.4 million people at risk of falling into famine.

Christian Aid has been working through local partners to respond to the hunger and flooding crisis. The charity has provided emergency life-saving support including blankets, mosquito nets, water purification tablets and cash to flood-affected families as well as cash, seeds, farming tools and fishing kits to families struggling to get enough food to eat.

Our Chief Executive Rosamond Bennett thanked everyone who took part in the sandbags action for their support for the charity’s work to relieve poverty in South Sudan and around the world:

“We are blessed to enjoy the prayerful and financial support of church leaders, congregations and individuals across the island of Ireland. We are grateful to everyone who took part in the ‘sandbag stockings’ solidarity action which has done so much to highlight the impact that flooding is having on an already terrible hunger crisis in South Sudan.”

It’s still not too late to support Christian Aid’s Christmas appeal. If you would like to donate, please do so below or call 028 9064 8133 (Belfast) or 01 496 7040 (Dublin) to make a telephone donation.