A special collection in support of people currently affected by the devastating hunger crisis in east-Africa will take place at Masses across Ireland this weekend, Saturday 22 July and Sunday 23 July. The money raised will go towards Trócaire, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland, which is delivering emergency food, water and health care to the 25 million people affected by the crisis.
Severe drought, driven by climate change, is currently affecting Kenya, South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia and this has resulted in failed harvests and the widespread death of livestock. Conflict has exacerbated the effects in South Sudan and Somalia, with areas in both countries now on the verge of famine. In Somalia alone, 1.4 million children face life-threatening severe malnutrition this year.
The United Nations has described the situation in the drought-ravaged parts of Africa as the greatest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.
Trócaire, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church, has a long-standing presence in all four affected countries and is working with local communities to deliver life-saving aid, including food, water and healthcare, to hundreds of thousands of those worst affected.
Eoin Wrenn, Trócaire’s Head of Region for east-Africa, spoke to Brenda Drumm this week about the emergency situation in east Africa and why there is a need for a special Church collection, which you can listen to here.
Announcing the national collection, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, said, “With the failure of successive rains and a prolonged drought having taken hold of the region, just surviving has now become the main challenge facing people in large parts of east Africa. Millions of people in the region are facing starvation. The crops have failed and animals are dying because of a lack of grazing and water. The large number of people affected may shock us, but we must realise that behind these stark numbers are real people: mothers and fathers unable to provide for their hungry children.
“The Catholic Church in Ireland is already responding to this crisis through Trócaire. However, needs are so enormous that we will hold special collections across the country on the weekend of 22 July. All money collected will go directly to Trócaire’s humanitarian relief work in east Africa. Bishops are asking clergy and parishioners to respond to this terrible tragedy with generosity.”
Bishop William Crean, Bishop of Cloyne and chairperson of Trócaire, said, “Trócaire is currently running an advertising campaign to raise awareness of this crisis. We have been providing emergency food aid, water and healthcare to affected communities – quite literally life-support for affected people. Trócaire’s health centres in Somalia are treating approximately 19,000 people each month for malnutrition and associated illnesses. With the support of parishioners here at home in the coming weeks, many tens of thousands more people will receive help. For example, over 13,000 children in Kenya will receive supplementary high-energy food, new boreholes will be provided for communities, many more people will receive monthly food rations and schools will be supplied with water.
“Globally, this crisis has received very little attention. Appeals for aid are under-funded. For example, the UN has received just 37% of the funding it needs to respond to the crisis in Somalia. The world is distracted by the actions of a handful of powerful politicians, while in east Africa millions suffer in silence. It is unacceptable for so many to go hungry.”
Donations to Trócaire’s east Africa hunger crisis appeal can be made at trocaire.org or by phoning 1850 408 408 (Republic of Ireland) or 0800 912 1200 (Northern Ireland). For more information on the work of Trócaire in east-Africa, please visit www.trocaire.org.
Photo: Antal Abdi Haji has her severely dehydrated son, Rahma, examined by personnel at Akara CTC. Photo: Amunga Eshuchi