(Vatican Radio) The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference is responding to the dire humanitarian crisis in East Africa by announcing that special collections at all Masses will take place across Ireland next weekend.
The money raised will go to Trócaire, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland, and member of the Caritas Network.
The agency at present is delivering emergency food, water and health care to the 25 million people affected.
Paul Healy is Country Director for Kenya & Somalia with Trócaire. He spoke to Lydia O’Kane about the situation on the ground.
He says, “I’ve been working here for 20 years; I’ve rarely seen it as bad if ever… I was up in Turkana myself in Northern Kenya the week before last and we’re seeing significant rates of severe acute malnutrition… way above what would be a normal crisis.”
Parts of East Africa including, Kenya, South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia have been hit by severe drought, driven by climate change. Conflict too has exacerbated the humanitarian situation in South Sudan and Somalia, with areas in both countries now on the verge of famine.
Under the radar
Trócaire is currently running an advertising campaign to raise awareness of this crisis but Irish Bishops say that globally the crisis in the region has received “very little attention.”
Paul Healy says, “we’ve tried to raise its profile, recently there was a very strong statement made by international non-governmental organisations on for example the situation in Southern Turkana; 60 thousand children there are very close to total starvation…and that reality for some reason is just staying below the radar.”
Church collections for East Africa will take place on the 22 and 23 July at all Masses throughout Ireland and donations can be made to Trócaire’s crisis appeal at trocaire.org