Just World. The Blog.
Six months after the devastion of Typhoon Haiyan, we look at the emergency and reconstruction work that has been undertaken by Trócaire partners on the ground. Your support has reached over 300,000 survivors of Typhoon Haiyan over the past 6 months.
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Caption: Leslie Montanejos and her husband's home on Leyte Island was destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan. The family have just moved into their new shelter, built by Trócaire partner, CRS. She's pictured here with her children Sofia Anne Marie, 4, and Anthony Jr., 2. Her third child is due in 3 weeks, and she's relieved to have a safe and clean home for her new baby.
Caption: Trócaire partner, Sisters of Mercy, prepared and distributed emergency food packs of dried food and rice in the aftermath of the Typhoon.
Caption: Emergency tent shelters and sleeping mats were distributed by Trócaire partner, Sisters of Mercy, in the aftermath of the Typhoon.
Last week a Trócaire-supported hospital in the Nuba Mountains region of Sudan came under attack. The hospital, which provides life-saving care to 150,000 people, came under sustained aerial attack, with damage caused to the building and injuries sustained by staff and patients. Trócaire's Filip Degrieck recently visited the Mother of Mercy hospital.
by Filip Degrieck, Trócaire
Last Thursday I learnt that the hospital Trócaire supports in the Nuba Mountains had been bombed. Having recently visited the hospital, it all felt very real, or actually very unreal. The first thing that came to mind was the little boy in the wheelchair who had just lost his right leg and right arm. I spent some time with him in the mornings and the evenings when I was in Nuba. I kept asking myself how he would have been able to scramble to safety when the bombs started falling. What about all the other kids and young babies and their mothers?
People in the Nuba Mountains have to hide in foxholes when the aerial attacks start. How is a mother with a new born supposed to dive into one of those fox holes? I tried jumping in one of those pits and it nearly felt like breaking a leg. Who could order or execute such a vicious attack on sick patients, young kids and their mothers and fathers?
Before traveling to the Nuba Mountains in February, I did not know much about the tragedy of the Nuba people. When I browsed the web for some info on the hospital in Gidel, I found a gripping documentary Terror in Sudan by Aidan Hartley. What caught me immediately were the words of Sister Angelina, the hospital matron, when she said: “where is the international community? Where is the UN to say stop?” When I arrived, I understood what she meant. In Nuba, there is no international presence.
Where was the UN? Where were the international agencies? Bombs are being dropped on innocent people. Yet, the people of the Nuba Mountains suffer in silence.
The Mother of Mercy hospital, which Trócaire funds, is the only medical facility. It serves the needs of approximately 150,000 people in the region. Without support from Trócaire and other Caritas agencies, these people would have no medical care. I remember one morning during breakfast in Gidel asking Tom, the surgeon who is running the hospital, why the Sudanese Government had never targeted the hospital before. He believed that this was probably because of the international exposure such a cowardly attack would most likely give to this forgotten conflict. How wrong were we all in thinking that.
We must demand that this most terrible of humanitarian crimes gets the reaction it deserves and brings attention to the suffering of the people in the Nuba Mountains.
Please watch this video from Nubareports and see the impact of the bombing on hospital patients, staff, and local residents.
Supporting South Sudanese in peace-building and reconciliation
by Faith Kasina
“My house is just behind this compound but I’m too afraid to go back. I’ll only leave when it’s safe.”
This is 25 year old Salome Amira’s reality, forced to leave behind a stable life and thriving business for an IDP camp outside South Sudan’s capital, Juba.
A million more South Sudanese like her now live in similar camps within the country and beyond, resulting from political feuds which quickly begot tribal violence and war, mid last December.
However, Salome remembers a different South Sudan not too long ago.
“We all lived peacefully, coming from different tribes and parts of South Sudan and supporting different leaders,” Salome reminisces. “It seems we have forgotten that. Now, my own neighbours can’t accept my family and me because of the language we speak.”
Captions: Top: Head of International Division Caoimhe de Barra talks with Salome Amira, internally displaced with her family in Juba, South Sudan. Salome was forced to leave her home and a thriving perfume business in the city after fighting broke out in mid December 2013. Salome is among the one million South Sudanese people currently displaced due to the conflict that started off as a political feud and quickly turned tribal. Bottom: A section of the UN House Juba 3 IDP camp that Salome currently lives in, with her husband and their one year old son. The IDP camp is home to over 12,000 families, seeking refuge from conflict-stricken areas, mainly north of the country. Approximately 803,000 South Sudanese live in 174 displacement sites across the country. Photos: Faith Kasina.
For many South Sudanese, gaining independence from Sudan in 2011 was a symbol of renewed hope of a fresh start after years of conflict and war.
The present crisis has, conversely, opened up old wounds.
“Sadness, distress and pain is the exact feeling of every South Sudanese today,” reiterates Isaac Kenyi from the Justice and Peace Commission that Trócaire supports in the country’s peace and reconciliation process. “We never expected brothers- who have stood together all this time and through the many struggles- to turn the gun against each other. It has taken us back to where we were many years ago.”
The Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) is the technical wing of the South Sudanese Catholic Church, representing the church in the country’s ongoing peace talks in Ethiopia.
With a core advisory mandate to the talks, the JPC ensures that the position of the church-as that of the voice of South Sudanese- advocates for an end to the crisis through inclusive discussion and reconciliation is adapted in the process.
Through local parishes, theatre performances and radio programmes, the JPC communicates with local communities on the progress of the peace talks, whilst advocating for peaceful co-existence at local level.
“Our core mandate is to be the voice of that man, woman and child, displaced from their home because of the fighting, because conflict has affected all of us,”says Jim Long John, also with the JPC delegation to the talks. “But we all have an obligation to bring peace; it’s not enough to have only the warring parties searching for a solution. All South Sudanese have to be involved in their own way.”
Trōcaire partners with the commission with a view to linking local communities to the ongoing peace talks, thereby fostering a sense of ownership and participation in the process.
“It is important to remember that the peace agreement will be for all South Sudanese people regardless of their tribe, tongue or geographical location. Community dialogue within the peace talks will provide a good roadmap from which the long journey of peace building and national reconciliation will begin,” reiterates Edward Santiago, Trōcaire’s Country Representative in South Sudan.
It may seem like a long walk to freedom but Salome remains hopeful.
“It will take a long time for things to go back to normal but I’m sure the peace we are all praying for will be found.”
Trōcaire works with community-based and national partners to implement governance, peace building and reconciliation and livelihood programmes in South Sudan.