Toronto's South Sudanese community rallies as famine worsens
‘There is an urgent need to save lives in South Sudan,’ says organizer of fundraiser to combat famine
Members of Toronto's Sudanese and South Sudanese community gathered for music and food on Sunday in an effort to raise money for the east African famine currently putting nearly 40 per cent of the country's population at risk.
A recent report from Famine Early Warning Systems Network warned that hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese children could die if they go without assistance in the coming months.
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"The main reason for the famine that's going on in South Sudan is the war," said Bashir Ismail, who helped organize the event "Stop Famine in South Sudan Now."
Fellow organizer Ismail Adam described the desperation of families fleeing their homes seeking shelter and food.
"Most of the people affected by this are children and women and the elderly. There is an urgent need to save lives in South Sudan," he said.
Adam implored more Canadians to send aid to his country of origin.
"You don't have to do a lot. As little as you can do, it will definitely save lives in South Sudan," he said.
Funds raised at the event went to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) staff currently stationed in Uganda to receive South Sudanese refugees as they cross the border.
Among the many performers were Kiki Jiko and Lauren Margaret Marron, who collaborated on a song called Dream World about the situation in South Sudan and the need to save children's lives.
Jiko, who was born in South Sudan, said he's troubled by what he hears from his family there.
"My sister had to send her kids to live in Uganda because they were scared; they were hiding under the bed while the war was going on. There were guns everywhere," he said.
Organizers hope to make the event part of a larger campaign to raise money and awareness about the famine, set to worsen through the months of July to September, the lean season for South Sudanese farmers.
We are launching a fundraiser in May for efforts on the famine in South Sudan <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StopFamineInSouthSudan?src=hash">#StopFamineInSouthSudan</a>—@StopFamineInSS