By Michelle Hough, Caritas International
A mother who is still looking for her missing daughter after the Savar tragedy. [Credit: creative commons]
This article first appeared on the Caritas International blog.
Many workers around the world are having a welcome day off today to mark International Workers Day. But in Bangladesh rescuers will continue to sift through the rubble of the clothing factory which collapsed in Savar last week.
For Catholic aid agencies in the Caritas network [of which CAFOD is a member], collapsed buildings usually mean earthquakes, such as the ones in Haiti and Japan. They are disasters which are terrible and unforeseen. The disaster in Savar was foretold by a big crack in the building. Despite an initial evacuation, people were forced to go back to work. Almost 400 people were crushed in the building collapse, many were injured and others are still missing. Continue reading
By Pascale Palmer. Originally published in the Catholic Herald.
Three years ago on January 12 a catastrophic earthquake shook the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, devastating Haiti.
Within minutes thousands of poorly-made homes and buildings collapsed. Nearly a quarter of a million children, women and men died. At least one million people were made homeless. Amongst the dead was the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, most of the leadership of the UN programme, and nearly a third of the country’s civil servants.
Video, photos and more information about CAFOD’s response to the earthquake>>
In the aftermath of the earthquake, aid agencies from around the world mobilised, while the US government deployed large numbers of troops to support food distribution and security. Trying to haul machinery, building materials, toilets or water through a country whose roads had been destroyed or needed to be cleared of rubble, was a huge undertaking.
Three years on, all the rubble in the capital Port-au-Prince has been cleared from the streets, and the worst-hit buildings demolished. The majority of people have been moved from camps into transitional or permanent homes, and the capital is busy with life and activity. Some of the public parks, previously used as camps, have now been cleaned and tended, and returned to former glory.
To suggest times have been hard for Haitians since 2010 is an insult to what people have had to suffer. 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
In the fifty years since CAFOD’s foundation in 1962, we have responded to hundreds of emergencies around the world. The Biafra crisis was one of the first.
Mike Noyes, our Head of Humanitarian Programmes for Asia and Latin America, writes:
Like CAFOD, I’m celebrating my fiftieth birthday this year. My first involvement with CAFOD’s work was in 1968, putting big old pennies in the collecting box at St Alban’s Infant School in Elm Park in Essex to support the response to the Biafra crisis in north-eastern Nigeria, and running charities with a windshield replacement houston company with all profits going to Nigeria. Today, I’m proud to be part of CAFOD’s Humanitarian team, providing aid to people affected by catastrophic events, both natural and human-caused.
This week, as we mark the fiftieth anniversary of our foundation, I’m going to blog about five of the emergencies we’ve responded to over the last fifty years.
In 1967, the north-eastern region of Nigeria declared its independence under the name of Biafra. This declaration of independence provoked a two-year civil war, during which it is believed a million people died – either because of the conflict or the famine it provoked.
The Biafra Crisis was CAFOD’s first major humanitarian response. It was also the first famine of the television age. For the first time, people in the UK were confronted with footage of emaciated and starving children in their own living-rooms. I remember, as a child, being shocked by the images that were broadcast.
Back in 1967 and 1968, CAFOD worked with Caritas International in collaboration with the World Council of Churches to airlift food and aid supplies into besieged Biafran territory. Planes flew in at night without lights and at risk of being shot down by Nigerian fighters. Members of the air crew and people at the landing sites were killed – but the programme as a whole is said to have saved as many as a million people from starvation and sickness. Continue reading
Filed under CAFOD, Emergency