In Northern Ireland, former Armagh football star, Oisin McConville launched the Trócaire Christmas Appeal at St. Mary’s Church in Belfast.
Speaking at the launch, where a set of family clothing was displayed to represent the refugees who have become ‘invisible’ to many, Oisin, a Trόcaire Ambassador, said Syrian refugees, including children, are living in appalling conditions in settlement camps in Lebanon, and are entering the bitterly cold winter period when life will become even more unbearable.
“Trócaire’s work, in association with partners, is life changing for people, providing them with food and shelter, community resilience training, health and psychological support services. The agency is also providing lots of support for young people.”
Oisin has travelled to Gaza to see Trόcaire’s work there. “I saw myself how difficult life is in Gaza and how conflict can have a terrible impact on the lives of women, men and children. Even though Gazans can’t leave because of the blockade there, I could absolutely see why people caught up in conflict feel like they have no other option than to flee. They often leave their homes with only what they can carry. No one leaves their country in these circumstances through choice. It is so important that we try to support refugees in whatever way we can.”
Oisin was joined at the launch by Belfast man David O’Hare who works for Trócaire and has just returned from a visit to Lebanon where he saw at first-hand the hardship that families are enduring in settlement camps in the Bekaa Valley on the Syrian border.
David O’Hare said, “It was a privilege to meet with families and to hear their stories. They are living in terrible conditions especially at this time of the year with the start of snow and biting cold. The harsh weather is creating havoc for the families living in tents which often flood and collapse leaving families without shelter, blankets or food.”