by Peter Stanford
CARDINAL Basil Hume returns from Ethiopia today after a six day trip to the drought-stricken region as international efforts to help the estimated seven million people threatened by starvation continue to mount.
Cardinal Hume, accompanied by the Director of Cafod, Julian Filochowski and the Africa Projects Officer, Cathy Corcoran, visited relief centres in Makele in southern Tigre, where some 50 children are dying each day, and in northern Shoa, as well as meeting Cafod's main partner in the country, the Christian Relief and
The Cardinal presented CRDA with a cheque for £250,000 for relief supplies from Cafod and its supporters, as well as an additional £50,000 from Christian Aid. CRDA has been coordinating efforts to ensure swift distribution of vital grain supplies from Ethiopia's conjested port of Assab to the worst affected areas.
Cafod announced this week that they were sending five 30 ton Leyland trucks, plus £40,000 worth of spare parts, to enable transportation difficulties to be eased.
Meanwhile donations are flooding in. Over £400,000 has now arrived at Cafod's offices.
Cardinal Hume, who is also President of the Council of European bishops conferences, explained his reasons for making the trip on the eve of his departure, "Ethiopia and its tragedy is not part of everyone's conscience". He went on: "It is very necessary for us to find out, on the spot, why there seems to be such delays and confusion in getting help to those who are suffering so much".
Before accompanying the Cardinal on his mission, Julian Filochowski spoke to the Catholic Herald of his frustration at the lack of recognition in some quarters for church efforts in Ethiopia. Because Cafod and Christian Aid do not have field workers in the region, but choose to rely on the expertise of local church bodies like the CRDA to determine where needs are greatest, they receive little publicity for their work, he said.
He stressed that the churches have been responding to the Ethiopian crisis for many months now. The Catholic bishops appealed in May for drought victims, whilst Christian Aid raised over £500,000 for Eritrea and Tigre in February.
Such efforts had gone largely unrecognised in the press until drought reached television screens in recent weeks he added.
See editorial p4.