CAFOD responding to multiple emergencies across the world
CAFOD is responding to significant crises across the world this week. We are working with local Church organisations in Haiti to deliver emergency aid to people affected by the catastrophic earthquake and tropical storm. In the tragic situation in Afghanistan, we are working to ensure the safety of our local partners and their communities. We are supporting local aid workers to deliver urgent food and water supplies to hundreds of thousands of people facing extreme hunger in Tigray in Ethiopia, South Sudan and north-east Nigeria. You can read more about how we can all express solidarity with our sisters and brothers affected by these emergencies on the CAFOD website: https://cafod.org.uk/News/Emergencies-news. Your compassion, generosity and prayers have helped us to stand together and enable us to continue to support communities in these difficult times. Thank you.
On Saturday 14 August, a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. More than 1900 people have been killed and at least one million more people are affected. Tropical storm Grace has now hit Haiti, exacerbating the already serious emergency. CAFOD is working through the local Church organisations, Caritas Haiti, the Jesuit Migrants and Refugees Service, the religious congregations and sister agency Catholic Relief Services to provide urgent humanitarian aid - food, water, tents, hygiene kits and first aid for families affected.
In Afghanistan, we are shocked and gravely concerned by the Taliban take-over of the vast majority of the country. The generosity and compassion of our Catholic community have allowed us to stand together with communities in Afghanistan since the 1980s, supporting local organisations committed to improving the lives of vulnerable and marginalised people. As you will appreciate, the situation in Afghanistan is uncertain and changing rapidly. Our Emergency Response Team are assessing how best to respond. We are doing everything possible to ensure the immediate well-being of local partners and the communities they serve. Please keep the people of Afghanistan in your prayers.
We are also responding to serious food shortages in Africa – in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, South Sudan and north-east Nigeria. Families across these three countries face extreme hunger because of a deadly combination of Covid, climate change and protracted conflict. A recent UN report identifies hunger in Tigray in Ethiopia, South Sudan, and north-east Nigeria as “catastrophic”. We have committed £500,000 already to get food and clean water to hundreds of thousands of people. With further support local aid workers will be able to scale up their response to reach more women, children, men, the elderly and people with disabilities with the food they urgently need.
Thank you for your solidarity, your prayers and your support for CAFOD’s work across the world. We share this prayer with you in this time of crisis.
In recent days, among our dispersed CAFOD teams, planning our global response to Coronavirus, some words from St Paul have come to mind: faith, hope and love.
We are facing an unprecedented emergency in every country we work in; and we are also mindful, each day, of people in our own Catholic community here in England and Wales who are unable to attend Mass; people worried and overstretched; of those who have tragically lost loved ones, and of those who were already enduring loneliness and are now in isolation. We need to respond in faith, hope and love. And so in faith, hope and love, we are reaching out to you.
Coronavirus is affecting every country we work in The poorest and excluded are most vulnerable. Food prices have risen with borders closing; the poorest are losing their jobs and income with wholesale shutdowns. As you can imagine, the outlook is very serious in places where healthcare is inadequate, and washing regularly and social distancing are luxuries. Half the world’s population can’t access basic healthcare, and already struggle to feed their families; and they now face the threat of hunger as the coronavirus shuts down markets and jobs.
As our first response, we have adapted all of our current work across 40 countries, and are also responding to already severe needs with emergency food relief, water and sanitation, and spreading awareness of prevention measures, especially through Church leaders and Catholic media.
But this is very much only the beginning of what will be a massive, and enduring response programme across every country we work in. This virus is changing our entire programme of work across the world. Beyond the immediate loss of life and suffering, long-term vulnerability, poverty, exclusion and injustice will only become more acute. The task is daunting. We and our church partners around the world are looking to God for strength, and to keep us acting in faith and hope, and we know that you across England and Wales are doing the same.
We know all too well that things are far from straightforward in all our parishes right now. We, as a global family, have never faced a crisis of this magnitude –in our own communities, and those communities CAFOD works with. But the scale is unimaginable in the most vulnerable communities of our world, and so as of today, we are appealing for support for our emergency response. Those communities with nothing, who have everything stacked against them, - our brothers and sisters - have never needed your love and support so much.
To help with adapting parish life to lockdown, some resources and guides are below, and I also include wording for an announcement in your parish newsletter, website and social media.
We are so grateful as always for all of your prayers and support, especially in what we know are distressing times for many here in the UK. At this time, I truly believe that our way through this time lies in holding fast to our faith and to one another. Please remember CAFOD’s work and our appeal in your communications with parishioners and in your prayers. We are living through one of the global events that will shape humanity, and our response can only be the response of the heart of God. We need to be his hands and feet – we cannot do otherwise. With my sincere thanks and my prayers