Zimbabwe, S.Sudan, Somalia among Nations facing “Christmas of hunger”: Catholic Aid Agency

Zimbabwe, South Sudan, and Somalia are among the four nations staring at a hunger pandemic starting this Christmas due to the combined effects of drought and COVID-19 restrictions, the leadership of the overseas development agency of the Catholic Bishops of Ireland, Trocaire says.

In a Friday, December 4 report obtained by ACI Africa, officials of the Ireland-based aid agency say the citizens of the three African are among the 270 million people across the globe facing a “Christmas of hunger.” Syria is the fourth country.

“This year has seen a perfect storm that has left 270 million people facing crisis levels of food shortages. That is double the number of people needing immediate assistance this time last year,” Trocaire’s CEO, Caoimhe de Barra has been quoted as saying in the December 4 report.

Ms. Barra adds, “The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating for the world’s poorest people. People haven’t been able to plant crops, sell goods at local markets or access school feeding programs.”

The hunger pandemic is aggravated by the fact that millions of people who may have been earning less than $1 a day before the COVID-19 are now earning nothing at all, Ms. Barra who has been at the helm of Trocaire since October 2018 further says.


In the Horn of Africa nation of Somalia, over 2 million people are in need of urgent food aid, according to the leadership of the 47-year-old Catholic aid agency.

In the face of the double tragedy of hunger and the coronavirus, Trocaire’s CEO acknowledges the “incredible resilience” of the Somalia people who “have overcome decades of conflict and worsening drought.”

“They are experts at surviving crises not of their making, but with the next harvest not due until April at the earliest, people need urgent support,” she says in reference to the people in Somalia and adds, “The next five months are going to be like nothing we have seen before.”

In the Southern African nation of Zimbabwe, Trocaire’s leadership says one in every three people is facing food crisis, with 56 of the country’s 60 districts facing crisis levels of hunger.

“Zimbabwe is experiencing a drought, an economic crisis and now COVID-19 too. The combined impact of this is devastating,” Trócaire’s Program Manager in Zimbabwe, Bekezela Mapanda has been quoted as saying in the December 4 report.

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Mr. Mapanda adds, “The COVID-19 lockdown meant people could not access markets or trade across borders. There is no social security net in Zimbabwe, so there are no payments for people who have lost their jobs or are struggling to grow crops.”

He further notes that while Zimbabweans are “amazingly strong and resilient”, the impact of COVID-19, on top of the drought and economic crisis, “has really pushed people to the edge.”

Meanwhile, in South Sudan, five regions “are at risk of falling into famine early in 2021,” Trocaire officials caution in the December 4 report.

The leadership of Trocaire has listed Syria among the four countries on the hunger pandemic watchlist, with a record 9.3 million Syrians requiring food support after ten years of war.

To mitigate the hunger pandemic, officials of Trocaire launched a Christmas appeal on December 4, seeking support to enable them reach out to the affected people.


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.