At their Summer General Meeting, which concluded yesterday 14 June in Maynooth, bishops welcomed Éamonn Meehan, director of Trócaire, to present the challenges facing the overseas development agency. Mr Meehan encouraged ongoing support for Trócaire from the people of Ireland as millions of people in South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are in urgent need of emergency food aid due to drought.
Mr Meehan advised the bishops that parts of South Sudan have fallen into famine, while across east Africa (South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya) over 24 million people are now facing malnutrition and extreme hunger. He highlighted that this situation demands an immediate response from governments and people across the world. Trócaire is deeply concerned for the deteriorating health and wellbeing of the people in east Africa who have been struggling and failing to grow food in the face the conflict and drought.
Mr Meehan explained that the humanitarian crisis gripping east Africa is adversely affecting its most vulnerable people – and their livestock. In Somalia alone, over 1.4 million children face life-threatening severe malnutrition this year. People in Somalia and South Sudan continue to suffer the impacts of conflict. War and instability have displaced millions and made it impossible for families to live safe and healthy lives.
An estimated three-quarters of all livestock have died across Somalia, leaving families without one of their main food sources. Drought has also led to lack of clean water. Over 4.5 million people are estimated to be in need of water. This situation has contributed to an outbreak of cholera, with 36,000 cases and over 700 deaths so far.
The drought in east Africa has contributed significantly to the current crisis. Northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia have been left ravaged by drought. Crops and animals have died, leaving people unable to provide for themselves. Over ten million people in Kenya and Ethiopia are in need of urgent food aid. The numbers of people impacted by this crisis are estimated at:
- in Somalia, 6.2 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, including an estimated 3.7 million children;
- over the second half of 2017, over nine million people in Ethiopia will not have access to safe drinking water;
- more than seven million people in South Sudan – over half the population of the country – are in need of urgent aid due to conflict and drought.
- 500,000 children in northern Kenya are facing malnutrition due to drought.
Trócaire is responding to the crisis in east Africa by providing food, water, purification tablets and other vital life-saving aids to support families in need. In addition, Trócaire’s health centres in Somalia are providing food and health support to malnourished children, while across Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan whilst it is providing high-energy food and other much-needed support to hundreds of thousands of people facing hunger.
Mr Meehan concluded his presentation by encouraging people across Ireland to support Trócaire’s ongoing humanitarian work by donating as generously as possible on www.trocaire.org.
Trócaire, the official overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland, was established by the Bishops’ Conference in 1973 to express the concern of the Irish Church for the suffering of the world’s poorest and most oppressed people.