Trócaire Blogs

 

July 19, 2016

South Sudan Update: Trócaire supports emergency aid for people forced from home

As a ceasefire holds in South Sudan, Trócaire is supporting emergency aid for people forced from their homes.

As a fragile ceasefire holds in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, tens of thousands of people are now homeless; either sheltering in church and UN compounds, living in forests, or displaced to surrounding rural areas. 

Trócaire is getting food, clean water, sanitation and emergency supplies to people sheltering in church compounds with our UK partner, CAFOD. 

                                                           People in South Sudan pass a military tank as a ceasefire holds in a blog by Trócaire. Trócaire is supporting emergency aid.


An estimated 36,000 people forced from home

The renewed fighting has made an already challenging situation worse.

The UN estimates that more than 36,000 people have fled their homes and that the death toll has reached more than 300, including scores of civilians. 

Church authorities believe that around 15,000 people in Juba have taken shelter in churches or other religious buildings.

Fighting broke out on 7th July 2016 and lasted for four days between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to Vice-President Riek Machar. President Kiir and Vice-President Machar announced a ceasefire which came into force on the following Monday.

"Their suffering is ours"

Our local partner, Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala from the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio, was in Juba at the start of the outbreak of fighting.

“My heart and my prayers goes out to the families of those who died so violently and to those whose lives have been forever changed,” he said. “Their suffering is ours.”

The South Sudan Council of Churches, of which Bishop Eduardo is a member, has called for peace and for the current ceasefire to be respected, calling on the political leadership to do all it can to build peace and reconciliation in the country.

Trócaire and CAFOD will continue to help people in South Sudan to recover from this latest outbreak of conflict. 

July 18, 2016

The movement to stop burning fossil fuels

By Antoin McDermott

Trócaire’s ‘The Burning Question’ campaign is part of a global movement of organisations and individuals who are demanding an end to the fossil fuel era and a faster move to a cleaner, more sustainable future. 

global divestment figures

View full infographic

Everyday, Trócaire staff working in developing countries see the devastating effects of climate change, which is driven to a large extent by the burning of fossil fuels in more developed countries.

They are witnessing increases in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events like droughts and floods, the loss of crops and livelihoods, and the increasing threat of hunger and malnutrition. 

So where did this movement to end the fossil fuel era start, how big is it and how successful has it been so far?

The birth of a movement

The movement originated in 2012 from a climate action organisation based in the US called 350.org

One of its founders, Bill McKibben realised that a campaign was needed to break the bond that had developed between fossil fuel companies and politicians as it was preventing political action on climate change. 

He saw that by campaigning against investments in fossil fuel companies, a stigmatisation of these companies’ practices would arise, making it hard for politicians to support them. 

The campaign really took off when McKibben published an article for Rolling Stone magazine called ‘Do The Math’ in which he explained how 80% of known fossil fuel reserves would need to stay in the ground in order to prevent the worse effects of climate change. 

He explained that to ensure that the fossil fuels remain in the ground we have to stop investing in the companies taking them out. The article went viral online.

The movement catches fire

McKibben took ‘Do The Math’ on tour like a rock band would, with strobe lights, musicians and celebrities. 

He called on the crowds to start what had been named ‘divestment’ campaigns after the successful anti-apartheid divestment campaign in the 80s. 

He asked them to push their colleges, churches, charities, and pension funds to stop investing in the top oil and coal companies. 

The impact was immediate. In just three days after the tour started Vermont College announced it would divest. 

By the end of November 2012, one hundred divestment campaigns had started. 

And by the end of 2014, that number had become more than a thousand. 

The campaign took off in the UK under the ‘Fossil Free’ banner in 2013. It has now become the fastest growing divestment campaign in history.

Big wins

There have been a number of big wins in this global campaign:

  • In September 2014, the heirs to the Rockerfeller withdrew all the fossil fuel investment in the $860 million Rockerfeller Brothers Fund.
  • Syracuse University committed in April 2015 to divest its $1.18bn endowment and to seek new investments in clean energy technologies.
  • In the same month, the Guardian Media Group divested its £800m fund.
  • In May 2016, the District of Columbia government in Washington D.C. announced that its $6.4 billion pension fund has fully divested from its direct investments in 200 of the world’s most polluting fossil fuel companies.

Notable supporters

The campaign also has a number of notable endorsers including former president of Ireland and UN envoy on climate and El Nino Mary Robinson, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Naomi Klein, Ban Ki-moon, Barack Obama, Al Gore, 
actor Leonardo Di Caprio, actor and comedian Russell Brand, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, and actor Tilda Swinton.

Where is it today?

Today, the approximate value of the institutions divested from fuels is $3.4 trillion, with well over 500 institutions in total divesting. 50,000 individuals have also divested about $5.2 billion.

Jamie Henn of 350.org recently said that “when we started fanning the divestment flames we had no idea what a wildfire would quickly spread around the world. People instantly understood the power of challenging institutions to put their money where their mouths are.”

You can be part of the movement

In Ireland campaigns to divest are happening in a number of colleges and other institutions with some successes, but what would give a really big boost to the campaign would be if the Irish government was to divest its investments in fossil fuels. This is Trocaire’s campaign. Sign up to our petition here.

July 15, 2016

Self-help group in Honduras supports women experiencing domestic abuse

By Santiago Agra Bermejo

The story of Y.Y.A.A., a 29 year old Honduran woman, who received support from Trócaire partner Alternativas y Oportunidades to reclaim her independence and self-esteem after years of verbal and physical abuse. 

YYAA in Honduras

“I am determined to move forward with my daughters and I won’t ever allow anyone to cause us harm again.” – Y.Y.A.A, Honduras

Y.Y.A.A., a 29 year old Honduran woman remembers her childhood as happy, with parents who treated her well and who always took an interest in her education. After attending primary school, she continued her education in her community’s secondary school. 

In her third year of secondary school, she met her partner, with whom she now has two children, girls aged 9 and 12. 

She explains that the relationship was great in the beginning, however after two years of living together, serious problems surfaced. 

She experienced verbal and psychological abuse from her partner. 

This led her to separate from him on numerous occasions and return home to her parents’ house with her daughters. 

However, her partner would quickly convince her to return to him, which she always did. 

Y.Y.A.A. shares how, during that time, she discovered that he had another partner, with whom he had two children.

As time went by, the abuse toward Y.Y.A.A. by her partner, escalated to physical violence, especially when she complained about his infidelity. 

Sadly, the abuse took place in front of her daughters, who would cry and beg their father to stop abusing their mother. 

In the last two years of her relationship with her partner, she began participating in training run by Alternativas y Oportunidades (Alternatives and Opportunities), specifically in their self-help groups.  

candida maradiaga delivering training

Cándida Maradiaga from Alternativas y Oportunidades, delivering a training session on self-esteem to the self-help group of the Community La Cuesta, Tegucigalpa.

It was through her participation in these groups that she gained knowledge on the prevention of violence against women. 

This process helped her to recognise that she was a victim of domestic violence and she decided she had to end the abusive relationship. 

One afternoon, after her partner had attacked her again, both verbally and physically, she was in a lot of physical and emotional pain. That same day, she found the power within herself to leave. She decided she would never go back to the man who abused her. 

Y.Y.A.A now recognises that the abusive relationship had a negative impact on her self-esteem. She had neglected her personal appearance and felt devalued, with no goals or plans for her own life. 

Today, Y.Y.A.A. explains with a huge smile that she puts on make-up every morning and feels great. “I feel pretty” she says.

Currently, she is working towards reaching one of her goals, which is to set up a beauty salon in Tegucigalpa. 

Learn more about Trócaire's work in Honduras.

July 14, 2016

Trócaire's commitment to transparency and accountability

Message from Éamonn Meehan, Trócaire Executive Director

There has been extensive media coverage over recent weeks of the financial practices that appear to have been carried out at a domestic Irish charity. 

Like everybody else in the country, I have been shocked and dismayed by what has emerged. 

I want to make clear Trócaire's position:

  • Our financial accounts, which are independently audited, are available in our latest Annual Report (pdf), the most recent of which is always available for download on our website.
  • Our accounts are prepared according to the Statement of Recommended Practice for Charities (SORP), which is recognised as best practice by the Accounting Standards Board (ASB).
  • Trócaire pays no 'top ups' or bonuses to any member of staff.
  • Our board members receive no payment for their work and serve a maximum of two three-year terms.

Last week I was in Ethiopia where I met with some of the 600,000 people in that country who are receiving emergency relief through Trócaire to help them through the current drought crisis. Our programmes in Ethiopia – funded through your generosity – are delivering vital aid to people experiencing the worst drought in decades.

Eamonn Meehan with Mary Robinson in Ethiopia, July 2016

Éamonn Meehan with farmers Desta Zegesta and Abeba Teklehaiman, Mary Robinson, and Trócaire Country Director in Ethiopia, Patricia Wall at aTrócaire project in Adigrat, north Ethiopia. Trócaire's work in the region is supporting people with emergency aid as well as building long-term irrigation systems. Photo: Eoghan Rice, July 2016.

 

Last year alone we brought support and relief to 2.4 million people across the developing world. 
 
We understand that when you donate to Trócaire you are trusting us to put that donation to best use to tackle poverty and injustice overseas. That is a responsibility we take extremely seriously.

I want you to know that Trócaire is committed to best financial practice. We are transparent, accountable and determined to work with our supporters in Ireland to end the scandal of poverty and injustice in the developing world.
 
As well as outlining our finances, our most recent Annual Report also tells stories of transformation in some of the communities we work in.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

July 08, 2016

South Sudan: Five years after the birth of a nation

This month marks the fifth anniversary of South Sudan, the world’s youngest independent country. 

On 9 July 2011, South Sudan gained independence after 20 years of civil war between north and south Sudan, during which time over two million people were killed.

The fledgling country faced huge problems – the legacy of decades of war, limited infrastructure, a lack of services and extreme poverty.  

While there were some signs of development and infrastructure being built in its first two years, progress was slow and people were not getting access to health services, education or enough food. 

                    Volunteer health promoters at a Trócaire-funded project in Yirol, South Sudan

Volunteer health promoters who work with communities to improve health and hygiene in Yirol, South Sudan with support from Trócaire

2013 conflict - 1.5 million flee their homes

A political crisis started to emerge in 2013 leading to a fresh outbreak of violence, which was cataclysmic for the new nation. 

From December 2013, conflict led to violence on a level not witnessed before in South Sudan, with a huge loss of life and trauma. 1.5 million people fled their homes and 500,000 escaped to nearby countries.  

Since then, the economy has collapsed. The South Sudanese pound has depreciated by 90% since December and inflation is at 300%. 

On top of the conflict and economic crisis, South Sudan is also facing its worst food shortage in history, with 4.8 million people facing hunger before harvests are expected next month.

To add to this, rainfall has been poor and hunger is increasing.

A new transitional government was established in 2015 and a precarious peace now rests on the country. 

Trócaire's work in South Sudan

Today, support for people in South Sudan is crucial. Trócaire and our UK partner, CAFOD, are working in the Yirol region to reach 4,800 people with food and supplying clean water to communities.

We’re supporting people facing hunger with cash vouchers so they can buy food quickly. 

We’re also funding livelihoods projects to help people feed themselves in the long-term, and promoting health and sanitation among communities. 

We’re reaching people who remain trapped in conflict zones and those who have fled their homes.

People from South Sudan have experienced or witnessed violence towards themselves and loved ones, and a huge number women have been raped. We are working closely with the Catholic Church at grassroots level to build peace and to help people to recover from the trauma of war. 

Hopes rest on peace and development

There is a greater degree of stability in South Sudan than there was during the height of the violence. But there is great pressure and weight on the shoulders of this young nation. 

As the country marks five years of independence, its people desperately need the situation to improve under the new transitional government, so that they can finally return to their homes and experience peace and development.

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