International activists in Taipei for 30-hour famine campaign

Taipei, World Vision activists on Friday shared their experiences of helping refugees in South Sudan and Bangladesh-Myanmar, detailing the needs and challenges faced as the charity organization's chapter in Taiwan prepares to hold its annual 30-hour famine campaign Saturday.

World Vision Taiwan's 29th "30-Hour Famine Hero Rally" titled "Act against Hunger" will start at 12p.m. Saturday in New Taipei and Kaohsiung, a campaign calling on the public to fast for 30 hours and make donations to help those with insufficient food to meet their needs at home and abroad.

Francis Mading Chol, a refugee-turned-activist from South Sudan, said the civil war that broke out in 2013, two years after achieving independence from Sudan, has caused a humanitarian crisis in his country.

Over the past five years, about 20,000 people have been killed and the number of refugees has exceeded 3 million, with 1.57 million at home and 2 million fleeing to Sudan, Ethiopia and other neighboring countries, Chol said at a press conference in Taipei.

Forcibly displaced from his home in 1996 at the age of 12 during the second Sudanese civil war from 1983-2005, Chol grew up in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya and decided to return home in 2009 to reunite with his mother even though he could have chosen to live in Canada.

With financial assistance from charitable organizations, Chol managed to finish college in 2015 and began to work in the charity sector.

"Actually my life story is not that different from other children in South Sudan. It's an example that you can support a child and when the child grows up and becomes successful, he can support other children," Chol said.

Ajab-Aram Raquel Macapagat of World Vision Philippines, in charge of the humanitarian organization's projects in Cox's Bazar, southern Bangladesh, home to about 900,000 refugees who have fled violence in Myanmar's North Rakhine State since August 2017, also attended the press conference.

More than 55 percent of the refugees in 30 makeshift settlements are children below the age of 18, left without access to such basic needs as water and sanitation, jobs, education and health care, Macapagat said.

The needs and vulnerabilities of the refugees continue to be immense, and with the monsoon and cyclone season nearing, their location in one of the most flood prone areas of Bangladesh is at major risk from floods and landslides while the existing public health crisis could be further exacerbated, Macapagat said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel