Brendan Gilligan

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Bishop calls on world to aid Somalis facing food shortages during drought

The apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Mogadishu, Somalia, called on the world to “pay attention to the plight of Somali people” as they face critical food shortages because of a crippling drought.

Bishop Giorgio Bertin of Djibouti, who also serves Mogadishu, said Somalis living outside the country’s central and southern agricultural regions are facing the grimmest situation.

“Most of the affected areas are those in the country’s north and northwest,” he told reporters earlier this week in Nairobi.

The bishop was in the Kenyan capital to attend a meeting of Catholic nongovernmental organisations addressing humanitarian needs in Somalia.

Somalia and some countries in East Africa have been affected by prolonged drought, Bishop Bertin said.

While in Kenya, the bishop also visited Dadaab, one of the world’s largest refugee complexes, in the northeastern part of the country. It houses mainly Somali refugees fleeing violence in their homeland.
The camp houses an estimated 270,000 refugees, he said, including people from South Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda.

Bishop Bertin said he believed the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, should be the agency that determines how and when the refugees return to their homelands, despite calls by the Kenyan government to close Dadaab.

“I am against any move to have settled refugees in a country like Kenya and from countries like Somalia forcefully kicked out of the country under whatever reasons, including a said insecurity threat,” the bishop said.

“In any given reason as to why this should be carried out, the UNHCR should be there to ensure the reasons are justified,” he added.

Bishop Bertin suggested that a full screening of the Somali refugees must be conducted before they are sent home.

“At Dadaab refugee camp, for example, there are different types of Somali refugees,” he said.

“There are Somali refugees who, in the course of their stay in Kenya, have married the Kenyan Somali people. Here these people qualify as Kenyans by virtue of their marriage and their children as Kenyans by birth,” he explained.

The bishop also discussed the need to consider that some parts of Somalia where refugees would be repatriated are experiencing serious insecurity.

“This, for me, can hardly be taken for granted,” he stressed, noting that the UNHCR should ensure that the repatriated refugees are provided sufficient aid and have access to necessary resources to allow them to begin a new life and ensure their safety.

“My take is that a UNHCR accompaniment of the returning Somali refugee should be a must,” he said.

Photo: Internally displaced Somali women wait for relief food while a child drinks water at a distribution centre in Baidoa, Somalia, after fleeing from drought stricken regions.

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OTHER NEWS

JOIN US FOR THE RE-DEDICATION EVENT -WATCH OUR LIVESTREAM BELOW AT NOON

THE REDEDICATION In 1381, England was dedicated to Mary by King Richard II and was 'set apart for her among the nations. This year, the Christians of England are called to make a personal dedication to Mary, taking up her example as Christ’s first disciple. History...

Prayers to say for the rededication of England as Mary’s Dowry

At noon today (Sunday, 29 March), England will be rededicated as the Dowry of Mary. While celebrations have been scaled back for obvious reasons, Catholics can still make join in at home by saying the prayers below. You can say the prayers at any time of day, although...

Online Mass and CAFOD are helping fill the holes left in our Sundays

With the coronavirus pandemic causing Masses across the country to be cancelled, there is now a large demand for virtual worship – and Catholic charity CAFOD hopes its weekly ‘Children’s Liturgy Live!’ will inspire families across the UK after the first session saw...

Catholic Churches in Europe opened to fight COVID-19

Catholic dioceses and religious orders across Europe are offering to turn church facilities into spaces needed for health care or housing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Church leaders throughout Europe have been struggling to maintain Catholic religious devotions...

CAFOD takes its activities online as world stays home

With the onset of the coronavirus leaving many spending more time inside, organisations have swung into action moving their activities online, including UK charity CAFOD, which hopes its digital events and resources will unite international communities. The Covid-19...