, 30 June, 2020 / 8:04 PM
Amid COVID-19 restrictions, Catholic Bishops in Ireland have partnered with their government to deliver life-saving aid supplies to the more than five million people fleeing the ongoing conflict in Ituri Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Through the partnership that has brought together the overseas development agency of the Catholic Bishops in Ireland, Trocaire, and the international development aid program of the Irish government, Irish Aid, emergency relief supplies are now being flown to DRC to benefit thousands of the displaced by the recent fighting, the leadership of Trocaire announced in a report published June 29.
“Over five million people have had to flee their homes due to the ongoing conflict in DRC. In recent months, intense fighting and extreme violence in Ituri province in the North East of DRC has resulted in over 200,000 people becoming displaced,” Trocaire leadership had reported.
In the June 29 report, Trocaire leadership further indicates that COVID-19 restrictions have made it “incredibly challenging to get much-needed humanitarian supplies” into Ituri province. The region has become a hotspot for militia violence and inter-ethnic conflict.
“For this reason, Irish Aid have supplied emergency humanitarian supplies to Trócaire in order to respond quickly to the humanitarian needs of displaced people,” the leadership of Trocaire says in the June 29 report.
The gold-rich region of Ituri has borne the brunt of the country’s worst conflict with the UN sounding alarm over the violence in the region, which has mostly affected women and children.
With one million people displaced in the ongoing conflict, UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch said Tuesday, June 30 that the agency is “appalled” by the violence meted on displaced civilians by armed groups. The civilians are targeted in reprisal attacks for their perceived support for the DRC Government army.
In reaching out to the affected people, the Irish ambassador in Uganda, Ian Carlos on behalf of Irish Aid handed over a 40-tonne shipment of supplies to Trócaire Uganda Country Director, Ian Dolan on Saturday, June 27.
The supplies are on transit to DRC and include thousands of fleece blankets, hygiene kits, mosquito nets and solar LED lamps, as well as family-sized tents and tarpaulins. The items are expected to benefit 1,500 families displaced in the ongoing conflict, the leadership of the 47-year-old aid agency has said.
“Ireland is delighted to support Trócaire’s efforts to get much-needed supplies to DRC at this difficult time,” Ambassador Carlos has been quoted as saying, adding, “COVID-19 has exacerbated the serious issues already affecting the people of Ituri, and I am glad that Trócaire can provide some assistance despite the current challenges.”
On behalf of Trocaire, Mr. Dolan said, “The generosity of the Irish people is legendary."
“This support from the Irish government through Irish Aid will now enable us to reach thousands of people in DRC. These are people who have left their homes behind as they have fled horrific violence,” Mr. Dolan added.
Trocaire’s Country Director in DRC, Saah Nyambe Lebreton is expected to receive the shipment upon arrival later in the week, together with representatives from the local Ituri government.
The supplies will be distributed to the most vulnerable families, with 80 percent being female headed households, the leadership of the Ireland-based aid agency has said.
Established in 1973, Trocaire has a dual mandate of supporting the most vulnerable people in the developing world while also raising awareness of injustice and global poverty in Ireland.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa