Thousands of malnourished women and children arriving daily in the overcrowded Dadaab refugee camp in Northern Kenya highlights the plight of 11 million people in the Horn of Africa caught in the grip of the worst drought in 60 years, said the National Director of Catholic Mission, Mr Martin Teulan.
“Warring armies in Somalia are exacerbating an already dire situation,” said Mr Teulan. “People fleeing into Northern Kenya and Ethiopia are crossing a drought ravaged country that will not sustain life.”
Today Mr Teulan received an email from Catholic Mission’s Director in Ethiopia, Father Angelo Antolini, asking the Australian Church for prayers to bring aid to the millions who are drought affected in the Horn of Africa.
“As Episcopal Vicar my responsibility includes the 100,000 sq km Afdar region in Ethiopian Somali which is very arid, very affected by the drought,” writes Fr Angelo. “The arid areas of Ogaden (Ethiopian Somali), the northern part of Kenya, all Somalia and the coast up to Eritrea are suffering because of the recurrent drought. The great need is for (humanitarian) intervention.”
From his base in Kofele in Ethiopia’s western Arsi-Bale region, Fr Angelo is prevented from travelling the 800 kilometre two day road journey to the provincial centre of Hargelle in Ethiopian Somali because of the incursions of Somali Liberation Front fighters.
“The journey to the area is risky and costly but it is for the benefit of the poorest (people) in the most politically unstable part of the globe. My thanks go out to the Church in Australia for your interest. Please keep us in your prayers”.
Catholic Mission is the only Catholic organisation with global works specifically dedicated to children said Mr Teulan.
“Australians have are always provided support where it is needed. We are a generous nation. In the last four years, through Catholic Mission, Australians have provided more than $747,000 towards the funding of critical children’s programs in Ethiopia and Eritrea”.
“The recurring drought puts at risk the most vulnerable members of the community: nursing mothers, babies and infants,” said Mr Teulan.
“Today in Ethiopia and Eritrea Catholic Mission is funding children feeding programs, medical programs, schooling, orphanages, neo-natal and post-natal care for nursing mothers.”
The United Nations states that the rate of malnutrition among refugee children in the camps in Northern Kenya and Ethiopia has reached figures which have never previously been recorded.
“Over half of the children have serious malnutrition with more than two million children severely malnourished.” said Mr Teulan.
“The question for the future of the Horn of Africa has gone beyond the expression ‘food security’. It is more serious. It is about saving a generation of African children from starvation.”
Mr Teulan appealed to the Australian Church to pray for the health of Africa’s children. “And we ask you to give your support to our children’s programs in Ethiopia and Eritrea as they are playing their part in helping children living through the worst drought in living memory survive to adulthood.”
To make your donation to Catholic Mission’s Horn of Africa Children’s Appeal phone 1800 257 296 or visit our website www.catholicmission.org.au