UN Visit May Reinforce Efforts in Niger, Christian Groups Say

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan arrived in the hunger stricken country of Niger Tuesday morning to address the impending issue of humanitarian relief effort in the area.

Christian organizations say the international attention of the visit may benefit the groups that are already working with local partners and overseeing the distribution of resources that have been provided by U.S. patrons.

The UN spokesman stated today in a daily briefing, “The trip is intended to show solidarity with the people and Government of Niger and also to help focus international attention on the special developmental challenges faced by the countries of Sahel, such as Niger.”

During the two-day stay in the country, Annan plans to spend time reinforcing the progress of UN World Food Program (WFP) in Niger, which has issued a budget of $81 million dollars towards humanitarian needs, according to the UN.

In parallel with the UN efforts, Christian agencies, including Lutheran World Relief (LWF), have scaled up their budget in response to the recent chronic crisis.

Rev. Rafael Malpica-Padilla, the executive director of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) Division for Global Mission and partners of LWF stated, "We must be attentive to these 'silent disasters' that affect millions of people.” He also stressed the "lack of prompt response from the international community,” that has made the crisis chronic and difficult to control.

In addition to LWF, Convoy of Hope (COH) and Operation Blessings are attending to the needs of the looming poverty that resulted from severe drought and locust infection.

Kenton Moody, the international director for Convey of Hope, told the Christian Post the importance of Christian groups to taking an active part in this relief effort “to show the willingness to help and share.”

According to Moody, the next three months will be a critical time period to secure the stability of Niger’s future, where the prices of food have triple and quadrupled in the last few weeks.

Nevertheless, he confirmed COH's commitment to continue “showing faith through action, showing love through action.”

Regarding UN secretary general’s presence in Niger, Moody commented, “World attention will help save people.”