Syria, Yemen, Haiti, South Sudan and Iraq are some of the countries of conflict and crisis which dominated 2016. This year, according to the UN, almost 93 million people in 33 countries will need humanitarian aid.
We asked our international group teams to outline their three main areas of need and prayer for 2017:
East and Southern Africa
Drought and hunger in the Horn of Africa and the countries of Southern Africa is still a huge issue. We’re working towards providing appropriate short-term humanitarian support so that long-term development gains will not be wiped out.
Ongoing conflict in South Sudan is creating Internally Displaced People and refugees to Uganda and Ethiopia, with the potential for ethnic killing and famine. There’s currently insufficient interest among the international community to bring an end to the crisis and unfortunately there are no signs this will happen. There’s a similar situation but to a lesser extent in Burundi.
We pray the humanitarian crises around the world will not take interest and effort away from long-term development across Africa where so many people living in poverty reside. For Tearfund this means continuing to focus on our Church-Led Community Transformation approaches wherever possible.
Written by Andy Morgan
Deputy-Head, East and Southern Africa Team
West and Central Africa
The influence of terrorist and rebels groups across the Sahel such as in Mali, Niger and north-east Nigeria- impacting our work but more importantly the lives of people living in those countries. This is in addition to the widening impact of the Boko Haram crisis on neighbouring countries of Niger, Chad and Cameroon need committed prayer.
Central Africa namely CAR & DRC given the disillusionment with government and cyclical conflict dynamics in both countries- where governments and leaders wrestle for power it is it the poor who suffer.
We want prayer against the emergence of an existing or new viral epidemic such as Ebola in Coastal West Africa (Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea). Additionally, the donor community has failed to honour pledges to support recovery and mitigate impact from the last devastating ebola outbreak. This has increased the marginalisation of the poor, with progress of recent years being reversed and threatened peace as governments are unable to deliver basic services.
Written by Martin Jennings
Head, West and Central Africa Team
Differences in faith and ethnicity are fuelling smaller conflicts and cases of discrimination, making minority groups more vulnerable to attacks. Throughout much of Asia we are witnessing increased fundamentalist influences which are not only marginalising minority faith-groups (often Christians) but are also limiting the potential of those groups to participate positively in the development of their wider communities.
Natural disasters in Asia are not tending to claim the number of lives that they did 20-30 years ago, thanks to increased preparedness and resilience. But the longer term impact on people's livelihood and vulnerabilities gets less attention as a result, often meaning there are many forgotten victims of disasters that get little or no assistance for the needs they face for years after the event itself – eventually leading them into poverty. Asia suffers many small or medium disaster each year so the number of people affected in this way are still huge.
Despite many areas in Asia experiencing significant economic growth, inequality still remains in places. For example in Indian mega-cities like Mumbai thousands of poor vulnerable women and children are trafficked for the sex trade or other forms of bonded labour every year. Huge efforts are still needed to ensure that growth lifts the poorest sector of society out of extreme poverty and that the basic human rights of the poor and vulnerable are upheld.
Written by Steve Collins
Head, Asia Team
Eurasia, Latin America and Caribbean
Prayer for our work in seeking to offer life, recovery and hope to refugees from across the Middle East (including Syria, Iraq and Yemen) by providing humanitarian aid, and encouraging peace-building and dialogue.
Building local preparedness and contingency plans to build the resilience of local vulnerable communities to disasters and shocks, and preparing our local country programmes to be ready to respond in the event of a crisis. This includes continuing to build up the capacity of our staff, partners and local communities in Haiti responding to Hurricane Matthew.
Building up the capacity of local churches in Latin America to respond to the needs of their communities and advocate to the local authorities to provide for the needs of the most vulnerable, in particular communities subjected to gang violence.
Written by Sarah Newnham
Head, Eurasia, Latin America and Caribbean Team
Myles Harrison, International Director, offers some closing thoughts for us as we get ready for taking on all that 2017 has in store:
'As the new International Director for Tearfund, I have been impressed by the determination, commitment and creative ways that we are seeking to respond to conflicts and crises around the world.
‘I was able to see first hand our work in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq, and was impressed by the way Tearfund sought out critical gaps in the support that was being given to people who had fled the terror of the so-called Islamic State. I was also encouraged by the creative ways used to meet critical needs of people who were living in tents, or half finished buildings in a harsh winter climate. While there is much work still to do we can know that they have warm clothes, some form of heat and were able to choose what they really needed through the cash provision and market style clothing distribution.
'As we look forward to 2017, the many challenges we see listed above, we remain committed to following Jesus where the needed is greatest, stepping into these places, working with partners on the ground to respond effectively. We strongly rely on prayer for this and seek your prayers specifically for these often complex and dangerous situations and also for the Tearfund team and our partners as we seek to respond.'