"A Tragedy of Biblical Proportions" - The East Africa Drought and Food Crisis

13 Oct 2011   |   Blog   |   Emergency Relief

Tags:  famine, CRS, humanitarian aid, Kenya, Relief   |   No comments

Refugees forced to flee from the drought and famine in Somalia wait in line for aid relief at a refugee camp in Kenya. Photo credit: Laura Sheahen for CRS

Ken Hackett, President of CRS (Caritas USA), spoke about the current drought crisis affecting millions across the Horn of Africa at a press conference held in Rome on 7 October, 2011.

CRS is a Caritas member working on the ground in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia delivering life-giving support to vulnerable communities affected by the drought and famine situations.

"Having worked in East Africa for over 35 years, I am deeply saddened to witness a tragedy of biblical proportions unfolding again. I thank the Holy Father for calling the Church’s–and the world’s–attention to the plight of hungry and distressed people across the Horn of Africa.

Catholic Relief Services, along with local Church and Caritas organisations at the diocesan and national levels, as well as non-Catholic groups and host governments, have been helpful in bringing short- and long-term interventions to families in distress.

In response to the situation facing the people of the Horn—including Somalis both in Somalia and those who have had to flee to neighbouring countries for safety—CRS has committed to expanding our long-term development and immediate assistance programmes over the next 12 to 18 months.

This is in addition to the many programmes we have there that reach millions of people.

The problems in Somalia are complex, pervasive and persistent. Solutions demand intelligent, sophisticated, thoughtful and persistent attention. The international community gave up on Somalia in 1993. It was placed in the category of ‘failed state’ and “must be contained” rather than “must be doubly engaged” because the solutions are complicated. Now, almost twenty years later, we see the consequences.

Our call is for a focused, determined engagement of the international community for a just peace in Somalia. In countries that border Somalia, we can point to villages and communities where our investments in water, improved sanitation, tested agricultural practice, better access to credit, and a focus on women as important breadwinners have made a difference. It has shown that when there is a bad drought, communities that we have engaged with in these ways are more resilient. But the problems persist. Our contribution, while significant, cannot bring about a full solution.

In the year 2011 it is a mark of shame on us as a people that hundreds of thousands are allowed to suffer and die of hunger, disease and deprivation because it is difficult or complicated for us.

While millions in my country suffer from job layoffs, or loss of jobs, homes and income, I believe their compassion for those who suffer at death’s door–after weeks of journey under the harshest of conditions–should not be underestimated.

Your prayers, your engagement and your generosity are most appreciated."

Show your support for the East Africa drought appeal - please donate today. Together, we are delivering life-giving aid.

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