Northern Ireland news

Sandbags replace stockings across Northern Ireland in solidarity with South Sudan

Retired civil engineer Leslie White from Bannside Presbyterian Church in Banbridge holds up his Christmas sandbag stocking to raise awareness of the hunger crisis in flood-hit South Sudan

A NEW festive tradition has begun in Northern Ireland as anti-poverty campaigners switched their normal Christmas stocking for a hessian sandbag to raise awareness of the hunger crisis in flood-hit South Sudan.

Normally deployed in flood prevention, the `sandbag stocking' is being used as to highlight that extreme weather exacerbated by climate change is a powerful driver of poverty and hunger, especially in already flood-prone countries.

The gesture is the initiative of international development charity Christian Aid.

In October, South Sudan saw its worst flooding in nearly 60 years, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to abandon their homes.

It has worsened a food crisis which has left 2.4 million people at risk of falling into famine in the world's youngest country.

Retired civil engineer Leslie White is among those taking part, as is 84-year-old Alex Chestnutt of First Antrim Presbyterian Church.

First Antrim has raised around £300,000 to date, making it one of the charity's most generous congregations in the north.

Christian Aid Ireland Chief Executive Rosamond Bennett thanked supporters across Northern Ireland for "standing in solidarity with people living in desperate situations".

For more information visit caid.ie/Christmas or call 028 9064 8133 to make a telephone donation.

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Northern Ireland news