“Happier were those pierced by the sword than those pierced by hunger, whose life drains away, deprived of the produce of the field. – Lamentations 4:9
The words of the Prophet Jeremiah echo loudly today as we witness the brutality and senseless violence in South Sudan. The echoes can be heard in the headlines as the world’s leading relief providers have already started warning of an even uglier tragedy beginning to unfold in that young and reeling nation.
Famine is coming to South Sudan. Unless immediate response is mounted we are being told to expect the starvation, not of dozens of children, not of hundreds of children, not of thousands of children, but to prepare for the unnecessary death of tens of thousands of innocent South Sudanese children. These are the children who will starve to death within the next six months, pierced by hunger, unless we act to prevent it.
Already malnourished and weakened, these children cannot survive the agony of their life draining away as it will during the hunger season. Once the rains begin the hope of these children, the life of these children, will wash away.
I am reminded of the words of Thomas Hood, the 18th century English poet. In The Song of the Shirt he wrote:
“Oh, God! That bread should be so dear!
And flesh and blood so cheap!”