Trócaire Blogs


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.

July 08, 2016

Five powerful quotes on climate change from Mary Robinson

Former President Mary Robinson was in Ethiopia this week to bring urgent attention to the food crisis affecting millions of people in East and Southern Africa.

She visited projects funded by Trócaire to bring emergency food, seeds, water and sanitation to people suffering hunger due to drought, which has been fuelled by climate change and El Niño. 
                Mary Robinson at a Trócaire project in northern Ethiopia that is delivering emergency aid and irrigation.

Mary Robinson at a Trócaire project in Adigrat, northern Ethiopia, which is delivering emergency aid to 30,000 people and irrigation systems to protect against future drought. (Photo: Eoghan Rice / Trócaire)

The current U.N Special Envoy for El Niño and Climate has made strong statements to bring focus to this serious humanitarian emergency. 

As a passionate campaigner for climate justice, she has spoken out on behalf of those whose voices are not being heard. 

Five powerful climate change statements from Mary Robinson – an inspiring humanitarian leader 

1. “Now, because of climate change, it has become so bad. And it really is bad…it is bad here in Ethiopia, where they do good climate work, where they cope well with climate and they're used to it.

"Yet they now have 10.3 million additional people who are malnourished and could suffer very badly before the end of this year…

"It brings home to us that we must cut emissions very fast. Ireland must become more of a leader in understanding the importance of renewable energy.” Newstalk, Pat Kenny Show, July 2016 from Ethiopia. 

2. “I don’t think the impact of El Niño, aggravated by climate change, has received the attention that it should have from the international community.” July 2016 from Ethiopia

3. “We shouldn’t underestimate the scale and the transformative nature of the change, which will be needed. We have to go to zero carbon emissions by about 2050 if we are going to stay below 2C of warming and that means that we have to leave about 2/3 of the known resources of fossil fuels in the ground.” Ted Talk, May 2015

4. “We have a responsibility to move in the direction that Paris has given us – well below 2C as far as possible to 1.5C – a world that leaves no one behind. A world that is fair and inclusive … We can do it. And we will have a much better and more equal world if we do.”  The Guardian, 16 March 2016

5. “Climate change is a fundamental problem that we must solve and not merely pass on to the generations to come…We can’t let our children and grandchildren look back on this critical period in time and say that we failed them.” Trócaire conference: Meeting the challenges of climate change – from evidence to action, Maynooth University, St Patricks College, Maynooth, June 2015

Trócaire's Burning Question Campaign

Burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas is a major cause of climate change, leading to drought and hunger. We must move to cleaner renewable energy to protect the poorest people from more drought and suffering. Trócaire is asking the Irish Government to stop investing in fossil fuels. Find out about our campaign.

June 30, 2016

Sierra Leone: Turning life around after domestic violence

By Carol Wrenn, Gender Equality Programme

In Sierra Leone, Trócaire is supporting women like Esther Bangua (32) to rebuild their lives after gender-based violence and look to the future. 

Esther Bangura (32) lost her husband at a young age. They had a happy marriage and she missed her husband, who she also relied on to provide for their children.

       Esther Bangura from Sierra Leone in her shop, which she started with Trócaire support after surviving a violent marriage
 Esther Bangura (32) in the small shop she opened with support from Trócaire

When she remarried, she hoped for a new start, but instead found herself married to a violent man who beat her.
Esther suffered sustained violence and emotional abuse at the hands of her second husband, who blamed her for being previously married. Meanwhile, he had extramarital relationships. 

The couple had two children before the marriage finally broke down.  

At first her husband paid the maintenance fee of about €14 per month for his two children, but he later stopped when he remarried. 

A new beginning for Esther and her children

Struggling to support herself, Esther approached Trócaire’s partner, Access to Justice Law Centre, for help. The centre was starting a new project for women who had suffered domestic violence. 

The project enabled her to start a small business selling household items such as sugar, salt, vegetables, sweets and soap. She was able to buy her children school materials and have simple family occasions such as cooking their favourite meal. 

“Thank you for the support in saving my life and that of my four children,” said Esther. “I was not feeling human…I even considered suicide because I had lost hope. Now, I am able to buy food and school materials for my children. I can even make decisions in family matters, which I wasn’t able to do before.”

Thanks to generous support from Ireland, Trócaire works across the world to support women to recover and rebuild their lives and confidence after abusive relationships.

June 28, 2016

Humanitarian aid: Five years of conflict in Kachin, Myanmar

By Lee Griffin, Myanmar Country Team

June marks five years of conflict in Kachin state, northern Myanmar, where Trócaire supports humanitarian aid. Da Shi Hka Ing (31) explains how she has lost her home and the life she once knew to the war. 

          People displaced by conflict in Kachin, Myanmar, where Trócaire supports humanitarian aid

 Left to right: Da Shi Hka Ing, Mali Gum Ring and N Lam Zau Lawt, who lost their homes through conflict in Myanmar

Military and opposition forces have been embroiled in a violent five-year war in Kachin, northern Nyanmar forcing 96,400 people from their homes and making many dependent on humanitarian aid. 

Villages have been damaged and destroyed and mines have been planted around homes and farmlands making Kachin an extremely dangerous place to live. There are no signs that the fighting will stop. 

A young mother's home burned down

Da Shi Hka Ing is a 31 year old mother whose village was burned down by the military because they thought that the villagers were connected to an armed group. 

Her family spent a year living in the forest with other families growing rice to survive. 

“The children could not attend school and a woman passed away because she had no access to medication,” she recalls. 

Eventually they settled in a camp for displaced people near the Kachin capital, Myitkyina, where her whole village now lives. 

While life in the camp is difficult, Da Shi Hka Ing says she is happy with its facilities and services. 

She is too scared to return to her village, while there are armed groups present and with her village burnt down, homes, clinics and schools would need to be rebuilt. She may never be able to return to her old life.

Trócaire supports humanitarian aid in the camps

Trócaire works with a local Church organisation, Karuna Mission Social Solidarity (KMSS), to provide humanitarian aid including water, toilet facilities and training in safe hygiene. Hygiene promotion is very important when people have to live in crowded camps.

Life in the camps can be dangerous. In February 2015, every shelter in the camp was destroyed by a fire that spread throughout in 30 minutes. The fire began at about 4am, while most of the camp slept. 

All hopes rest on peace

The newly-elected democratic government in Myanmar led by Aung San Suu Kyi brings hope that the conflict in Myanmar may finally be resolved. There are many obstacles on the path to peace, but in Kachin, people are depending on it. 

June 23, 2016

Better World Award Winners 2016

Primary students take on climate change in this year's Better World Awards poster competition. 

Using Trócaire Lent education resource packs on 'climate justice' the young artists were challenged to create images that promote fairness and the equality of all human beings, challenge stereotypes and show themselves as global citizens and agents of change.

Find out more about the annual competition

Competition winning posters for 2016:

Winners in the 1st & 2nd class category

1st class, Meenkilly National School, Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick. Teacher: Bernie Leonard. 

poster by 1st class, Meenkilly N.S. Abbeyfeale. Co Limerick.

Winners in the 3rd & 4th class category

3rd & 4th class, Bahola National School, Bahola, Claremorris, Co Mayo. Teacher: Una Gordon. 

poster by 3rd & 4th class, Bahola N.S., Bahola, Claremorris, Co Mayo.

Runners up in the 3rd & 4th class category

3rd & 4th class, Clonea Power National School, Clonea Power, Carrick-on-Suir, Co Waterford. Teacher: Alice O'Brien. 

poster by 3rd & 4th class, Clonea Power N.S., Clonea Power, Carrick-on-Suir, Co Waterford.

Winners in the 5th & 6th class category

5th class, Scoil Mhuire, Lissivigeen, Killarney, Co Kerry. Teacher: Miriam O'Sullivan Long.

poster by 5th class, Scoil Mhuire, Lissivigeen, Killarney, Co Kerry.