The World Council of Churches has joined with the All Africa Conference of Churches in calling for a Global Day of Prayer to End Famine on 21st May as millions in Africa face starvation.

With more people today facing famine than at any time in modern history, the organisations and a range of faith-based partners and networks - ranging from the Lutheran World Federation to the Christian Conference of Asia and World Evangelical Alliance as well as NGOs like Caritas in Veritate International and World Vision - are calling on churches to join in prayer during what Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC, describes as an "unprecedented period of suffering".

More than 20 million people are at risk of starvation in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen - with famine already declared in parts of South Sudan and, says Rev Dr Tveit, millions more around the globe suffer from drought and food shortages.

"But famines are much more than simple lack of food," he said. "They are the result of conflict, drought, poverty and global inaction, and in most cases they are preventable.”

Rev Dr Tveit said churches have a "prophetic role in calling to mobilise their members, the wider society and governments, and make a difference during this unprecedented period of suffering".

“Food is more than a human right; it is a divine gift that cannot be impeded,” he said. "As people of faith on a 'Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace', we are called to respond to the hunger crisis through prayer, and we encourage communities of all faiths to organise themselves around the issue of access to food.”

Resources - including fact sheets, an order of service, song proposals and a powerpoint - to assist churches and other groups to take part can be downloaded from the World Council of Churches website and the Global Day of Prayer to End Famine website.