By Sarah Mac Donald - 16 September, 2020
The Irish public’s generous support of Trócaire enabled the bishops’ development agency assist 2.5m people in 27 countries last year.
The figures were released on Tuesday in Trócaire’s Annual Report, which showed the scale of the agency’s work in 2019/20, prior to the global outbreak of Covid-19.
Launching the report, Trócaire’s CEO, Caoimhe de Barra said, “As always, we are tremendously grateful for the great support we receive from the parishioners, the clergy and bishops of Ireland, north and south. They are the lifeblood of Trócaire.”
“Such support, as well as our ongoing partnership with Irish Aid, allows us to work with local partners in an effort to tackle poverty and injustice in some of the world’s poorest regions. Our programmes around the world brought assistance and relief to communities in 27 countries, including humanitarian support for nearly 1.8 million people.”
However, she underlined that the Covid crisis had profoundly changed Trócaire’s work.
“Over recent months, our programmes have rapidly shifted to helping to stop the spread of the virus in countries that lack the most basic medical infrastructure to deal with an outbreak.”
“Trócaire and our partners are providing support in the communities where we work. As well as providing public health messaging and hand-washing facilities, we are also supporting people in quarantine and providing medical support, including isolation facilities,” she explained.
“Covid-19 is an immediate threat to us all, but the threat is heightened in places like refugee camps where people are unable to socially distance or regularly wash their hands. The social and economic implications of this pandemic have plunged already desperately poor people into further poverty.”
Trócaire’s CEO said that while the agency’s immediate response will continue for many months ahead, they were also expecting an increase in hunger.
“We are also concerned about the human rights impact of Covid-19. This crisis may provide authoritarian governments with an opportunity to clamp down on human rights, target human rights defenders and push ahead with projects that violate the rights of communities.”
“Women and girls are also at increased risk of violence due to lockdown measures. Addressing both the drivers and impact of that violence is a priority for Trócaire.”
She added that the lasting impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic will only become clear in the months ahead and so “Trócaire’s loyal supporters will continue to play a vital role in the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable.”
Over the financial year 2019/20, the public donated €23m to Trócaire. The 2019 Lenten Appeal saw a 10 percent increase in donations, totalling €8.3m.
The overseas development agency of the Irish Church supported people in 27 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Its largest programmes last year were in Ethiopia, Sudan and DR Congo.
The report also details how last year saw the charity respond to natural disasters and climatic shocks. Working through their partners, Trócaire provided shelter, food and other vital equipment to 39,000 people across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe after the devastating impact of Cyclone Idai.
Of the 2.5 million people the organisation supported last year, 1.8 million people received humanitarian support, while an additional 700,000 people were supported through Trócaire’s long-term development work.
This work includes agricultural support, women’s empowerment projects and support for human rights defenders.
Advocacy campaign progress included Trócaire’s call on the Irish and UK Governments to support a UN Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights, while the agency’s continued support for the Occupied Territories Bill has kept the issue to the fore of Irish political debate.
Additionally, Trócaire-funded legal support resulted in the release last year of indigenous Human Rights Defender, Abelino Chub Caal, who spent two years wrongfully imprisoned in Guatemala.