Trócaire Blogs

 

June 23, 2017

Today's humanitarian emergencies must learn from history

Trócaire has worked in Somalia since 1992 and it is one of the most difficult situations we have ever faced. Ireland has a special connection with Somalia since former President Mary Robinson visited there in 1992 and highlighted the appalling suffering people were facing during the famine that year.

We are still working in Somalia supporting food programmes, education and healthcare, but almost 25 years later people in Somalia are on the brink of another famine. Why? And what is the solution?

Trócaire, NUI Galway and the Irish Research Council brought humanitarian workers, academic experts and the Irish/Somali community together ask that question.

Nurah at Somalia Conference in Galway on June 22nd 2017

 

Photo caption: Nurah, Irish-Somali and Trócaire volunteer

"In Somalia the generations for the future that we are relying on are not getting an education. What kind of children for future leadership are we expecting when we cannot equip our children to get the quality education that they deserve?"

Nurah,  Trócaire volunteer in Cork

 

Rosemary Heenan and Kevin O'Sullivan at Somalia conference in Galway

 

Photo caption: Rosemary Heenan (left) and Dr Kevin O'Sullivan (right) in NUI Galway

"What sparked it for us in NUI Galway is looking at the refugee situation and the war in Syria. Last summer we asked ourselves what can we do about this? As historians what can we contribute?

So we decided to look at Somalia, and learn from the past to project into the future. It's about thinking backwards to see what worked and what didn't and take it forward into your own work.

Historians focus on context and the past. Humanitarian agencies and NGOs focus on what do we do now. What is needed for the future. So I think bringing that thinking together could bring new knowledge to these humanitarian crises around the world."

Dr Kevin O'Sullivan, History School of Humanities, NUI Galway

 

Rosemary Heenan in NUIG Galway

 

Photo caption: Rosemary Heenan in NUI Galway

"If I look at the famine in Somalia in 2011 and I look at the drought-crisis now. How much as changed? The big thing that has really worked for Trócaire in Somalia is that we worked on long-term programmes. So we have that constant presence. It gives us a credibilty with communities because the know we stay. We are the most dependble. 1 year funding for chronic situation is a band-aid solution. It's so important to build local people's resiliance. So much of the approach in Somalia has all been short-term which creates today's situation."

Rosemary Heenan, former Trócaire East Africa Regional Manager

 

Somalia has been neglected and abused at political and international level for decades. This conference highlighted what has been learned about Somalia over 25 years so that leaders and policy makers can stop re-creating past mistakes, find new solutions.

Thanks to support from Ireland thousands of Somali families have received food, healthcare and education over the past 25 years. This support has saved countless lives and continues today.

Thanks to support from Ireland the people of Somalia are not alone and are not forgotten.

 

Posted In:
June 21, 2017

Giving young people a voice in Myanmar

‘Let My Voice Be Heard’ is Trócaire Myanmar photography project involving young people who were forced to flee their homes due to conflict in Kachin State, and are now living in displacement camps.

Let my voice be heard

 

Selection of photographs from the 'Let My Voice Be Heard' project

The project gave the participants cameras to document their daily lives, giving them the opportunity to share their experiences, testimonies and perspectives on peace and conflict in Kachin State, Myanmar.

The project has empowered youth displaced by the conflict in Kachin to share their experiences and perspectives through photography and digital story-telling. The photographs capture a variety of themes, offering unique perspectives into to the lives of people living in conflict-affected Kachin state.

See more photographs on our 'Let My Voice Be Heard' flickr set

 

Along with the photographs, a series of multimedia photo-stories have been produced with the support of Yangon Photo Festival, two of which were shown as part of the 2017 festival, with one winning an award.

The photo-stories offer a unique insight into life in Laiza and within some of the camps. They cover a range of diverse areas from individual life stories to every day topics such as traditional cooking, livelihood activities, religious life and local fashion, as well as portraying the recent displacement of civilians to camps due to an escalation in fighting.

The ‘Let My Voice Be Heard’ photography exhibition and multi-media screenings were held in Myanmar Deitta in Yangoon from June 9-18th, and showcased a selection of photographs produced through the project.

This project is part of the larger ‘Durable Peace Programme’ funded by the European Union.

June 16, 2017

What does Trócaire do in Israel and Palestine?

What is Trócaire doing in Israel and Palestine? Our position can be summed up in one sentence: we believe international law should be adhered to. 

Our belief in international law underpins everything we say about this issue. Trócaire wants peace in Israel and Palestine. We want that peace to be based on mutual respect, mutual understanding and security and equality for all. 

We work with Palestinian and Israeli organisations that share our desire for a just peace. That peace must be based on international law. That means a renunciation of violence on all sides and a return to the internationally recognised borders. 

Israelis and Palestinians working together for peace

Trócaire works with Israeli and Palestinian groups who share a belief in a just peace based on international law.

Our belief that the only way to end the cycle of violence is to respect international law is shared by the Irish government, the EU and the UN. 

Failure to implement international law has led to human rights abuses, a worsening of poverty levels and the continuation of a cycle of violence that has claimed too many innocent Palestinian and Israeli lives. 

Making meaningful efforts towards building peace is the best way towards ensuring security for all people in the region. As His Holiness Pope Francis stated on his visit to the Holy Land, there is a need to create, “a stable peace based on justice, the recognition of the rights of every individual, and on mutual security.” 

We have no links to any political party or organisation. We fund independent human rights organisations that are completely independent of government.

As well as supporting families at risk of home demolition or other human rights abuses by supporting Israeli and Palestinian organisations that take legal cases to halt such actions, we also support human rights groups that hold Palestinian authorities to account. We support Palestinian groups that seek to build a democratic society based on human rights and the rule of law. 

We work with Israeli organisations and people who are committed to a lasting peace with their neighbours. Israeli society is diverse and is home to many groups and people who share our belief in international law and a just peace based on human rights. 

'This is Palestine' documentary produced by Tyrone productions in association with Trócaire.

We do not call for a boycott of Israel, nor do we involve ourselves in issues within Israeli borders. There is much to be admired about Israeli society and we are proud to support progressive Israeli organisations. Our objection is not with Israeli people or Israeli society but with the policies of the Israeli government in Palestinian lands. These concerns and objections are shared by many Israeli people, as well as by the UN, the EU and the Irish government. 

In many places around the world, including Palestine, political systems and structures have exacerbated poverty and led to people being denied their rights. Speaking up for people who have been targeted or left voiceless by political systems is a key part of our work throughout Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. 

The conflict in Israel and Palestine is emotionally charged. When we speak about the situation in the West Bank and Gaza we receive huge levels of support from people who recognise our desire for a just peace for all people in the region. We also receive critical commentary, much of it designed to spread untruths about us. We won’t let this stop us from speaking out. Trócaire will always stand up for justice.

Read more about Trócaire's work in Palestine and Israel.

No more victims

Trócaire condemns violence on all sides and supports Israeli and Palestinian organisations working for mutual understanding and respect.

June 09, 2017

Voices of women in conflict in Myanmar

Trócaire and Oxfam release new research report Life on Hold: Experiences of women displaced by conflict in Kachin State, Myanmar

Life on Hold cover image

Since the conflict reignited in 2011 in Kachin State, Myanmar, over 100,000 internally people remain living in camps. To date, efforts at brokering peace have not resulted in a cessation of armed conflict.

Trócaire and Oxfam have commissioned a new report which aims to bring together the voices and memories of women who have been internally displaced by this conflict, as well as their hopes and priorities for peace in Kachin State.

Women from 12 different camps in both government-controlled areas and Kachin Independence Organisation-controlled/non-government controlled areas share their feelings and needs.

The findings in this report feature testimonies of loss of family members, children, husbands, homes, and of everything the women owned before the conflict disrupted their lives.

Violence, particularly physical and sexual violence against women, is heavily present in their past and current lives.

In most families, during the period of being displaced from their villages, women bore the major responsibility for taking care of family members, and often said they had been overwhelmed by the situation.

Most women had either directly experienced physical violence, sexual violence or forced labour, or witnessed the instances of the same against a close relative, extended family member, neighbour, or villager.

The women also said there was “no justice” for women victims of violence.

Many stories of the women centre on the loss of their land, property and various belongings.

Many women reported giving birth while they were hiding in the jungle without any medical support or midwifery services, as well as the illness and death of their children.

The report also assesses the exclusion women experience from receiving relevant information related to conflict and peace — and hence, their exclusion from negotiation and decision-making processes.

The testimonies also explore women’s deep desire for involvement in peace building.

This research report was commissioned by Trócaire and Oxfam as part of the Durable Peace Programme funded by the European Union.

Access Report

Posted In:
June 02, 2017

Trump’s withdrawal from Paris Agreement “shameful and reckless"

Child at Trócaire feeding centre Turkana

 

A malnourished child is weighed and treated at a Trócaire health centre in northern Kenya (Photo: David O'Hare)

 

Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw America from the Paris Agreement is a shameful act from an administration with no concern for the world’s poor, Trócaire has said.

The decision to withdraw America from the global climate change agreement is particularly shocking given that over 24 million people in east Africa are currently reliant on food aid due to prolonged drought and conflict. 

“This is a reckless move and signals a complete lack of concern for the world’s poorest people by the Trump administration,” said Trócaire’s Éamonn Meehan.

“At a time when the lives of over 24 million people in east Africa are dependent on food aid, this constitutes a shameful betrayal of people whose futures depend on the world’s powerful governments taking action on climate change. 

“President Trump should travel to east Africa and see for himself the devastating impact of climate change. Trócaire sees those impacts every day. The current crisis is east Africa has been caused by a worsening drought and exacerbated by conflict in some countries.”

While America has signalled its intention to withdraw from the deal, the fact that other big countries, including China, India and the EU nations, have stated their intention to maintain their commitments shows that the world will move on without Donald Trump’s administration. 

It is vital that Ireland plays a positive role in maintaining the obligations of the agreement.

With Dáil Éireann set to elect a new Taoiseach over the coming weeks, Meehan said that one of the first acts of the new Taoiseach should be to publicly reaffirm Ireland’s support for the Paris Agreement and signal Ireland’s determination to live-up to its international obligations on climate change.
 
“One of the new Taoiseach’s first acts should be to unambiguously reaffirm Ireland’s commitment to the Paris Agreement. The Trump administration’s hostility to reality should not distract the rest of the world from the task of building a safe and sustainable future. This is an opportunity for Ireland to show leadership on the global stage by reaffirming our belief in and commitment to the targets set out in the Paris Agreement. 

“The recent passage of the Fracking Bill and the progression of a bill to end the state’s investment in fossil fuel companies are signs of global leadership on climate change from Ireland.  However, Ireland’s broader performance on climate change is poor. A National Mitigation Plan is set to go to cabinet in the next weeks which will set out the Government’s stall on climate action for the next five years. The new Taoiseach should prioritise strengthening this plan in keeping with our obligations under the Paris Agreement.”  

Meehan also warned that the US position on climate change could lead to a loss of life in the developing world and will pose significant risks to people in the US:

“We see the impacts of climate change every day through our work. Right now over 24 million people are in need of food aid across east Africa as a result of drought and conflict. These droughts are becoming more frequent and more intense. The US is the world’s second highest polluter, accounting for almost 16 per cent of global emissions, so they are contributing significantly to this crisis.

“Climate change presents enormous risks for America too. The World Bank has stated that five of the top 10 cities in the world most at risk from climate change are in the US. The Trump administration is on a collision course with reality.”

Find out more about Trócaire's response to the east Africa food crisis.

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