The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference has called for special collections at all Masses next weekend (July 22-23) to fund life-saving aid for people affected by the devastating hunger crisis in east-Africa.
The money raised will be donated to Trócaire, the overseas development agency of the Irish Church, which is delivering emergency food, water and health care to the 25 million people affected.
Archbishop Eamon Martin said the situation is critical and has urged support for the collection from parishioners. “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,” he said.
Bishop William Crean, chairperson of Trócaire, said Trócaire’s health centres in Somalia are treating approximately 19,000 people each month for malnutrition and associated illnesses, and “with the support of parishioners here at home in the coming weeks, many tens of thousands more people will receive help”.
Bishop Crean said this crisis has received very little attention globally and “appeals for aid are under-funded”, but it is “unacceptable for so many to go hungry”.
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.
The United Nations has described the situation in the drought-ravaged parts of Africa as the greatest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.