Sarah Hagger-Holt, CAFOD’s Campaigns Engagement Manager, tells us about her experience at the Speak Up climate lobby.
On 17 June, 9,000 people came to Westminster to speak to their MPs about climate change as part of The Climate Coalition Speak Up For the Love Of lobby of Parliament. They came in twos and threes or in coach-loads. For some it was a simple tube ride, while others got up before dawn or even travelled down by overnight bus. They came from almost every UK constituency.
Couldn’t make it to the lobby? It’s not too late to speak up
I spotted many familiar faces from past marches and lobbies, as well groups of schoolchildren experiencing their first taste of campaigning for change. I saw parents with their babies sleeping in slings, and caught up with a group of Sisters, all well into their 70s, having the time of their lives waving their banners and chatting to other CAFOD supporters.
It can be lonely to be a campaigner
It can be lonely to be a campaigner. I sometimes feel that my voice is tiny compared to the global systems that dominate our world. But this was a day when we were strong: in numbers, in diversity and in commitment for a world where all can flourish. Continue reading
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
Filed under Africa, CAFOD, Niger
The fighting has forced 200,000 people from their homes
We are sorry to report that a local office of our sister agency Caritas Mali has been destroyed by fighting in northern Mali. The following article first appeared on the Caritas Internationalis website:
Caritas Mali says its local office in Gao in northern Mali was destroyed along with the local church after Tuareg rebels seized the city at the weekend.
Despite the conflict in the north and a coup last month, Caritas Mali says its operations providing desperately needed food aid to the rest of the country continue.
The Tuareg rebels have seized three regional capitals in as many days. The main rebel group is the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). They are operating alongside the Islamist group Ansar Edine, who have links to Al Qaeda’s north African branch.
Fr Jean-Jacques, director of Caritas Gao said, “Caritas staff fled Gao on Saturday. We learned from our guard today that the centre and the church compound have been destroyed.
“We have received calls from the small Catholic community left in Gao. They are now in hiding, fearing for their lives.” Continue reading
Refugees from Mali: “the fighting in Mali today is a direction consequence of what happened in Libya,” says CAFOD partner Raymond Yoro
When the UK and other countries decided to protect the Libyan rebels and assist their revolution a year ago, the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and other leaders promised that the lessons of Iraq would be learned; and that plans would be in place to deal with the aftermath.
Those promises are ringing hollow in Mali and Niger today.
It was shocking to learn that the President of Mali, Amadou Toumani Touré, had been ousted in a military coup. After all, for twenty years, Mali has been recognised as one of the more successful democracies in Africa.
The soldiers who carried out the coup say that they did so because of Touré’s handling of the Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country – a rebellion that many in Africa, including the ousted President, attribute to the impact of the Libyan revolution. Continue reading
Support our work in Niger and West Africa>>
During the last few days, I’ve had the chance to ask several people in Niger how this year’s food crisis compares with previous ones. They’ve all said the same thing: it’s the worst one they can remember.
Mintou, a grandmother living in a village about three hours’ drive from the capital, said: “There was one year when it was very bad, which we call ‘kantchakalague’. Maybe we can compare this year that that one. But I think this year is worse.”
“Does ‘kantchakalgue’ mean famine?” I asked Tchadi from our partner CADEV, who was translating.
“No, not famine,” he said. “Literally, it means tiredness, thinness, a time when people are thin and animals are overwhelmed. A time when even if you kill an animal, you will find no meat inside. It’s a special word that people here give to 1984. We will have to see if they give this year a name as well.”
Filed under Africa, CAFOD, Niger