YWAM’s tragedy reinforces the urgency of addressing road safety in Africa

By CDI Staff |
YWAM’s tragedy reinforces the urgency of addressing road safety in Africa
A road accident that occurred in the Ngaramtoni suburb of Arusha, northern Tanzania, led to the deaths of at least 15 people, including three foreigners. Twelve others were seriously injured in the accident involving four vehicles on February, 24, 2024. | | Screengrab: Wasafi Media/YouTube

Eleven YWAM leaders lost their lives in a bus accident on February 24, 2024 in the east African country of Tanzania. According to the latest updates from YWAM, five injured individuals are still hospitalized and two more are in critical condition.

The incident prompts serious questions about road safety across the continent. Sub-Saharan Africa’s fatality rate from road crashes stands at 27 per 100,000 inhabitants, three times higher than Europe’s average and well above the global average of 18, according to the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

Jean Todt, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, highlighted Africa’s disproportionate vulnerability to road accidents. He emphasized that road accidents are the leading cause of youth mortality in Africa, underscoring the urgent need for action.

A recent report by the Africa Development Group (AFdB), titled “Mortality in Africa: The Share of Road Traffic Fatalities,” revealed that road traffic accidents constitute 25% of all injury-related deaths in Africa. Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco experience particularly high rates of fatalities.

The AFdB report outlined strategies to reduce road fatalities, including improved road infrastructure and enforcement of road safety measures. However, enforcement remains weak across the continent.

In October 2023, three US missionaries tragically died in a road accident near the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya. They were affiliated with a community organization called Child Refuge Centre International from Michigan and Illinois.

In a public letter about the recent accident in Tanzania, Darlene Cunningham, co-founder of YWAM, highlighted the profound impact of losing beloved friends and colleagues. She described the aftermath as staggering.

“Survivors are grappling with trauma and grief while navigating practical challenges such as repatriation and funeral arrangements,” she said. “The Arusha base has erected tents for community members to gather and mourn together, showcasing the unity and support within the YWAM family.”

Drawing inspiration from Scripture, Darlene urged resilience and faith. She emphasized the need to hold onto unwavering trust in God amidst despair.

The missionaries involved in the car crash were participants in the “Executive Masters in Leadership” course, based at YWAM Arusha, Tanzania. They had embarked on a field trip to Maasai land, in the north of the country, to observe and learn from a community development program. However, their return journey ended in tragedy when a truck collided with their bus due to brake failure.

The leadership of YWAM is rallying for support to aid logistical arrangements, including medical evacuations, repatriations and funeral arrangements.

Youth With A Mission (YWAM), co-founded by Loren Cunningham in 1960, is a global mission movement that mobilizes missionaries from over 200 countries. With a presence in more than 2,000 locations, YWAM engages individuals from various denominations and backgrounds in missionary work.