Message from Justin Kilcullen, Trócaire Director
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I write following the decision by Monsignor Brendan Byrne to hold a collection in churches in Kildare & Leighlin on the weekend of 23rd and 24th July to respond to the plight of millions suffering from the devastating effects of drought in East Africa.
In Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, famine is emerging because of the failure of the seasonal rains over the last two years. Now more than 12 million people are at serious risk, over half of them children. All the classic indications of famine are starkly visible: people moving from their homes, the emergence of serious levels of malnutrition, now estimated at five times the emergency threshold, and the sale and death of livestock, the most important asset for these communities. About 90% of livestock are currently at risk.
In fact the situation is steadily worsening. The town of Dollow on the Somali / Ethiopian border is a case in point. There are now 1,700 Somalis crossing into Ethiopia on a daily basis. Trócaire runs a health centre for mothers and their children in the town which provides outpatient care, antenatal and delivery care, child screening, vaccination services and additional outreach programmes to five outlying villages. Trócaire also runs an outpatient therapeutic feeding programme for severely malnourished children. This programme has been in existence for a number of years but has had to scale up to cope with the present crisis.
This has been a slowly emerging crisis with which Trócaire has been engaged from our offices in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. In addition to the above healthcare programmes, Trócaire is funding ten drought response programmes in the region, bringing food to affected communities, supporting livestock projects and promoting the best use of the water supply.
What is clear from this crisis is that the world’s poorest people still remain locked in the most scandalous poverty and are extremely vulnerable to any deterioration in their circumstances. Despite the severe economic difficulty in our own country, we trust that the faithful will respond again with generosity, as they have so often in the past, in accordance with their own means. We are, of course, conscious of how this generosity has manifested itself, most recently in our Lenten Campaign of 2011.
On behalf of the people of East Africa calling out to us in their distress for assistance, we thank you most sincerely for your ongoing support of Trócaire’s work. Thank you, in particular, for your support of this special Church appeal.
Trócaire is the official overseas development agency of the Catholic Church In Ireland. It is a member of Caritas Internationalis.