Reflections on the Israel and Gaza conflict

CAFOD welcomes the announcement of a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza, which we hope has brought a halt to the latest violence. Efforts must now go into addressing the underlying causes of injustice. CAFOD’s Senior writer, Mark Chamberlain, reflects on his trip to Gaza in 2015.

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Covid-19: “We refuse to be overwhelmed by the odds stacked against us”

Nana Anto-Awuakye recalls her visit to Sierra Leone in 2015 at the peak of the Ebola outbreak and reports on the work that CAFOD has begun with local experts in the country now to fight coronavirus.

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Ebola in the DRC: Learning from the past

Laura Purves, one of CAFOD’s Emergency Response Officers, reflects on her experiences in Sierra Leone during the Ebola epidemic in 2015 – in particular, what was learned that can be used to help in the Democratic Republic of Congo now.

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This is a climate emergency

Mark Chamberlain, CAFOD Communications Officer, describes how people’s lives are changing around the world because of climate change.

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The role of an aid worker

Timothy Cohen from CAFOD’s emergency response team reflect back on his visit to Nepal. He talks about the role of an aid worker.

If someone tells you they’re an ‘aid worker’, how would you picture them? You probably think of someone who’s any (or all) of the following:

  • Photogenic (which rules me out!)
  • EmotiveFunded by EU
  • Holding a clipboard in a t-shirt with a cool logo

That’s certainly how we (the aid sector) have sold ourselves to the public for the past 20 years. It’s good for our image and our branding. And it’s not untrue either; but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

But if you’ve paid close attention, maybe you’ve noticed this narrative changing slightly over the past few years? Maybe you’ve noticed that members of the local communities, and the organisations that they work for, are in the spotlight more and more?

Help us respond to emergencies

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Rohingya Crisis Appeal: Caritas volunteers join relief efforts

Tom Delamere is CAFOD’s Bangladesh Programme Officer. Here he tells us about his recent visits to Bangladesh, a country struggling to cope with the arrival of more than 582,000 refugees from Myanmar, on top of the devastating effects of recent flooding.

On landing in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s bustling capital city, two things immediately strike you. The first is the close, warm climate; growing up in the North of England didn’t really prepare me for South Asia’s summer temperatures. The second is just how busy the roads and streets are, ringing with vehicle horns, rickshaw bells and the movement of crowds of people.

Please donate to CAFOD’s Rohingya Crisis Appeal 

What sticks in my mind the most about the country is the hospitality shown by its people – a warm welcome, a cup of char and an engaging conversation are never far away.

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Rohingya Crisis Appeal: Working together our aid response gives back dignity

Francis Atul Sarker is the executive director of Caritas Bangladesh, our local partner who is working around the clock to get emergency aid to the mainly Rohingya people, fleeing violence in neighbouring Myanmar. He gives this eyewitness account of life for the refugees in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district.

Please donate to CAFOD’s Rohingya Crisis Appeal

Head of Caritas Bangladesh, Francis Atul Sarker, in Cox’s Bazar meeting refugees

When I think of the refugees that I visited in southern Bangladesh last week, I keep seeing a young girl with trauma written across her face. I asked where her parents were. She told me she was an orphan, being looked after by a neighbour from their village in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. It was heart-breaking.

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Nepal earthquake: bringing innovation to steep slopes

Bhawanatha Paudel is being helped by CAFOD to make a good living two years on from the Nepal earthquake.
Bhawanatha Paudel is being helped by CAFOD to make a good living two years on from the Nepal earthquake.

Two years on from the massive Nepal earthquakes, Milan Mukhia, who is based in Kathmandu and works for CAFOD’s partner, Cordaid, tells us about an innovative way your donations are helping people get back on their feet.

On 25 April 2015, a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the area to the north of Kathmandu in Nepal. This was the country’s worst disaster in living memory; nearly 9,000 people died, thousands more were injured, and 600,000 lost their homes and income.

Just over two weeks later, on 12 May, a second 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, adding to the destruction.

Please pray for people affected by the Nepal Earthquakes

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Ethiopia drought: we must work together to tackle climate change

Ethiopia Food Crisis - Herit in her field
Herit has not been able to grow any crops this year

A crippling drought has hit Ethiopia and 10 million people face hunger. We are working with our local partners to reach the most vulnerable with life-saving aid. Severe and extreme weather shifts, part of the El Niño effect, mean that the rains in Ethiopia have failed twice. It is believed that the severity of the droughts caused by El Niño are worsening because of climate change.

Find out more about the current situation in Ethiopia

Our partners around the world have been seeing climate change affect communities for years now, and things are only getting worseAbba Teum, the Diocesan Director for Adigrat Diocese Catholic Secretariat, (one of our partners in Ethiopia) told us how climate change has impacted his local landscape and affected his community. Continue reading “Ethiopia drought: we must work together to tackle climate change”

Why Syrians become refugees: a view from Aleppo

Bishop AudoBishop Antoine Audo, SJ is the Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo and the President of Caritas Syria. He writes:

If you want to know why so many Syrians are seeking a new life in Europe, just come to Aleppo. Large parts of our city have been laid to waste. Bombs and rockets fall every day, and we never know when or where they will hit. We do not feel safe in our homes, in our schools, in the streets, in our churches or in our mosques. It is exhausting to live with this fear hour after hour, day after day.

Even without the shelling, life here would be almost unbearable. Throughout the summer, as temperatures have soared, people have been forced to cope without running water or electricity in their homes. Four out of five people don’t have a job, so families are not able to afford food or basic supplies. The middle-classes have become poor, while the poor are now destitute. Many of those who are still here are elderly. Almost no-one is still in Aleppo by choice: most of those who remain do not have enough money to leave.

I have been the Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo for 25 years, and it fills me with sadness to see what has happened to my city. As President of Caritas Syria, I have chosen to stay so I can lead distributions of food and emergency supplies, with support from Catholics in England and Wales and their aid agency CAFOD. But our work is becoming harder, because more and more of our staff are leaving the country. I do not blame them, but their departure makes the task of helping those in need even more difficult.

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In some parts of the country, we have had to suspend our operations. In 2014, my colleagues in the city of Hassakeh provided vulnerable Syrians of every faith with vouchers for food, clothes and school equipment as well as covering the costs of medical treatment. In total, they reached over 20,000 people. But this July, as the city fell to extremists, all our staff had to flee at short notice. One of my colleagues had given birth only three days beforehand. Continue reading “Why Syrians become refugees: a view from Aleppo”