Africa­n drought children’s desperate plight

18/07/2011

Catholic Mission News Story
A Catholic Mission funded clinic in Awassa, Ethiopia.

Thousands of malnourished women and children arriving daily in the overcrowded Dadaab refugee camp in Northern Kenya highlights the plight of 11 million people in the Horn of Africa caught in the grip of the worst drought in 60 years, says Catholic Mission.

According to Catholic Mission National Director Martin Teulan, warring armies in Somalia are exacerbating an already dire situation.

“People fleeing into Northern Kenya and Ethiopia are crossing a drought ravaged country that will not sustain life,” said Mr Teulan.

Mr Teulan said correspondence has been received from Catholic Mission’s Director in Ethiopia, Father Angelo Antolini, asking the Australian Church for prayers to bring aid to the millions who are drought affected in the Horn of Africa.

Fr Angelo writes:

“As Episcopal Vicar my responsibility includes the 100,000 sq km Afdar region in Ethiopian Somali which is very arid, very affected by the drought,” writes Fr Angelo.

“The arid areas of Ogaden (Ethiopian Somali), the northern part of Kenya, all Somalia and the coast up to Eritrea are suffering because of the recurrent drought. The great need is for (humanitarian) intervention.”

From his base in Kofele in Ethiopia’s western Arsi-Bale region, Fr Angelo is prevented from travelling the 800 kilometre, two-day road journey to the provincial centre of Hargelle in Ethiopian Somali because of the incursions of Somali Liberation Front fighters.

“The journey to the area is risky and costly but it is for the benefit of the poorest (people) in the most politically unstable part of the globe,” Fr Angelo write.

My thanks go out to the Church in Australia for your interest. Please keep us in your prayers”.

Saving a generation of children from starvation

Mr Teulan said Catholic Mission is the only Catholic organisation with global works specifically dedicated to children.

“Australians have are always provided support where it is needed. We are a generous nation,” Mr Teulan said.

“Through Catholic Mission, Australians have provided more than $747,000 over the last four years towards the funding of critical children’s programs in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

“The recurring drought puts at risk the most vulnerable members of the community: nursing mothers, babies and infants.

“Today in Ethiopia and Eritrea Catholic Mission is funding children feeding programs, medical programs, schooling, orphanages, neo-natal and post-natal care for nursing mothers.”

The United Nations states that the rate of malnutrition among refugee children in the camps in Northern Kenya and Ethiopia has reached figures which have never previously been recorded.

“More than half of the children have serious malnutrition with more than two million children severely malnourished,” Mr Teulan said.

“The question for the future of the Horn of Africa has gone beyond the expression ‘food security’. It is more serious. It is about saving a generation of African children from starvation.”

Mr Teulan has appealed to the Australian Church to pray for the health of Africa’s children.

“We ask you to give your support to our children’s programs in Ethiopia and Eritrea as they are playing their part in helping children living through the worst drought in living memory survive to adulthood,” he said.

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