Ten years since the beginning of the crisis in Darfur, millions of people are still in need of humanitarian aid. We have been supporting projects in Darfur since 2004 as part of a major emergency programme organised by the two main international church-based networks, Caritas Internationalis and Action by Churches Together Alliance.
Our local partner trains residents of a camp for displaced people
in Darfur to repair water systems.[Laura Sheahen for ACT/Caritas]
Laura Sheahen recently visited Darfur on behalf of Caritas. She writes:
“When we first came here, we were getting water from the valley, seven kilometers away.” Muhammad is a long-time resident of a camp in Darfur for people who fled violence. He remembers what it was like nearly a decade ago, when thousands of desperate people first arrived. “Farmers were settled closer to the valley, so we couldn’t live where the water was. But when we went to get water, they helped us.”
Ten years later, hundreds of thousands of people remain in Darfur’s camps. They’d like to go back to their villages, but until they can, Caritas-funded programmes are making sure they can live in dignity. 2013 marks 10 years of keeping vulnerable Darfuris alive and making their lives better. Continue reading
Mike Noyes, our Head of Humanitarian Programmes for Asia and Latin America, talks from Haiti about the progress made since the earthquake.
Read more about our response>>
Pray for the people of Haiti>>
In his second blog about CAFOD’s humanitarian work over the last fifty years, Mike Noyes remembers the drought of 1973.
The drought that affected East Africa and the Sahel region (the stretch of Africa just south of the Sahara desert) in 1973 was one of the worst in recent memory. When I was working in Africa in the late 1980s, people used to talk about this drought as being the one that caused permanent environmental damage: whole forests died, and wildlife was wiped out.
The impact of the drought was particularly serious in Ethiopia, because it coincided with a civil war. Affecting mostly the north-eastern part of the country, the drought was said at the time to have led to the deaths of some 200,000 people, although current estimates put the figure at about half that number.
Attempts by the ruling regime of Haile Selassie to cover up the extent of the disaster, and a domestic economic slump resulting from the 1973 oil crisis, increased discontent amongst the politically organised groups in the army, and led to a coup which brought the communist-backed Derg regime to power.
This regime in turn was to collapse in 1987 following another major drought and famine in Ethiopia in 1983-84, where once again the government tried to hide the true impact of the suffering of its people.
Back in 1973, we launched a special appeal for Ethiopia and raised £30,000 – worth about ten times as much in today’s terms. Continue reading
We are supporting our partner Caritas Lebanon as they provide aid to refugees from Syria. Caritas Communications Officer Laura Sheahen describes her recent trip to Lebanon:
Monday morning: Visited Syrian refugees squeezed into tiny apartments in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. The parents don’t know how they will make ends meet. They also worry about their children not making friends in their new country. One boy, Salem, says, “People here don’t want to play with us.”
Salem has sketched a drawing of what he saw before they left their town in Syria: soldiers shooting people and airplanes overhead. “We had a good life once in Syria,” says Leila, his mother, looking at the picture. “But I saw what was all around my children. This is why we left.”
Pray for peace in the Middle East>>
Monday afternoon: Travelled to tent camps in the Bekaa Valley, near the Syria-Lebanon border. Caritas has distributed food, hygiene materials like soap, and other items to many families in the camps. A man who asks to be called “Jafaar” – most Syrian refugees don’t want their real names known – introduces us to his teenage relatives, whose parents couldn’t escape Syria. He shows us into their bare tent and asks if they can be put on Caritas’ distribution list. Continue reading
Filed under CAFOD, Lebanon
Help us respond to the food crisis in Niger>>
I liked Imam Abdowlaye Boukary as soon as I met him. He was about my age, calm, gentle, quietly spoken, with an easy smile. I met him outside the tiny shelter he was sharing with his wife and two children. To call it basic would be an understatement: it was built out of sticks, plastic sheets and cardboard boxes.
The Imam told me that he and his family had left their village because of a disastrous harvest. Today they are living in a makeshift camp on the outskirts of Niamey, Niger’s capital.
“We didn’t have to leave in previous seasons,” he said, “because we managed to harvest some beans. This year there was nothing. I am very attached to my village, and there is no way we would have left if we hadn’t been forced to.
“My village is 95km from here. My wife and I started off on foot with the kids. You can find people who drive you some of the way, but it took us almost two days. Now we have been here for four months. We didn’t have anywhere else to go.” Continue reading