In the light of the global Covid-19 pandemic, Bishops’ Appeal – the Church of Ireland’s World Aid and Development Programme – is releasing a total of €50,000 to five key partner mission and development agencies to support their efforts among the world’s most vulnerable people.
The five agencies are Christian Aid, Tearfund Ireland, CMS Ireland, USPG, and Motivation.
The emergency responses include distributing essential supplies such as food, soap, medicine and information to people whose markets have shut down and who have no access to supplies, people who live in informal settlements and in refugee camps, and people who are living with a disability.
The Rt Rev Patrick Rooke, Chair of Bishops’ Appeal, said: “Aware of the financial pressures parishes are currently experiencing, the Church of Ireland is not launching its own major appeal but asking dioceses, parishes and individuals to give what they can to the appeals launched by our partner agencies, with Bishops’ Appeal acting as a conduit.
“In the midst of our own sufferings and fears at this time, it is vital that we remember those in countries with fewer resources and expertise.’
Further donations can be sent to Bishops’ Appeal via the website.
Current and planned responses:
Christian Aid is using the lessons from the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus. The agency is already taking action in Rohingya refugee camps where 850,000 people live in cramped conditions. Working together with partners, Christian Aid is informing people about the risks, offering hygiene and handwashing sessions, ensuring that health facilities in camps have triage and isolation spaces in order to receive suspected cases, and providing training to health personnel and key frontline aid workers.
Tearfund is working in Ethiopia, Cambodia and Uganda and with Syrian refugees in Lebanon who are living in densely packed conditions in makeshift shelters, waiting for peace and the possibility to return home. Whereas people would have previously congregated to receive essential supplies, volunteers now knock on hundreds of doors delivering food and medicines. These are countries with much fewer resources than Ireland to face this pandemic – for example, in Uganda, it is estimated that there are more government ministers than ICU beds.
CMS Ireland is working with partner churches which are distributing handwashing supplies in refugee camps in northern Uganda. Diocesan clinics in the region need assistance to upgrade their personal protection equipment and to upgrade their main hospital to be ready as a treatment and isolation centre.
In South Sudan, partner churches are requesting funds for bicycles to help to spread accurate information. The war has ensured that the vast majority of people living in the country have no financial reserves – so being unable to work their gardens or sell at market has left many in need of food and soap. Several dioceses wish to make packs available to the most vulnerable in their communities. The Mothers’ Union in Maridi has been busy making masks for the diocesan clinic and they need further supplies.
In eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kindu Diocese is also suffering the devastating impact of local floods at this time and their communities are displaced, already without food and basic supplies.
The Urban Development Programme in Kenya ministers to communities in informal settlements. The programme has identified many elderly residents who are without basic household supplies and would like to provide these for them.
USPG is launching a new fund in solidarity with churches locally – across South and East Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Oceania, the Middle East and Europe – as they provide care and support for their communities most in need, out of their faithful commitment to God’s love. USPG has already sent money to Guinea, in West Africa, for the distribution of sanitation kits, and emergency support to families of agricultural labourers in central Sri Lanka where coronavirus restrictions have severely exacerbated pre-existing difficulties created by unusually dry weather.
Motivation is working with disabled people in Africa and South Asia who have lost jobs and income, lack access to food and medicine and are struggling with pain and loss of dignity, due to a lack of urinary and sanitary products, which increases their risk of serious infection. These people are also often excluded from support so a network of communication and support is being utilised to keep them connected and informed.