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Dublin: 6°C Thursday 25 February 2021

A change collection that became an Irish institution is back

Kumba from Sierra Leone is this year’s cover star.

Kumba with her Trocaire box.
Kumba with her Trocaire box.
Image: Trócaire

IRELAND’S LARGEST CHARITY fundraiser, the Trocaire Box appeal, kicks off this week with one million boxes set to be delivered.

The Lenten appeal saw €8.5 million donated last year, with support going to over two million people overseas.

This year’s Trócaire box tells the story of Kumba, a seven-year-old girl from Sierra Leone. The campaign launches on the six-month anniversary of a devastating mudslide that destroyed her home and killed over 1,000 people in the area of Freetown where she lives.

Launching the Lenten campaign, Trocaire’s Éamonn Meehan warned that growing numbers of people are being trapped in humanitarian crises. He said that Kumba’s story underlines why the charity does what it does.

“At the age of just seven, Kumba has already survived an Ebola outbreak that killed 4,000 people and a mudslide that killed 1,000 people.

“Her young life has been spent in an almost constant state of crisis. Tragically, she is far from alone. A seven-year-old in Syria has never known peace; a seven-year-old in Gaza has survived two separate wars; a seven-year-old in South Sudan has experienced both famine and civil war in their short life.

“Conflict, climate change and disasters have led to a lost generation across so many of the countries we work in. Millions of children are growing up in the shadow of war and disaster, being moved from camp to camp; never finishing school, never knowing what it is like to have one settled home. In South Sudan, nearly 65 per cent of displaced people are under the age of 18.

“We will use donations to our campaign to support over two million of the poorest and most vulnerable people around the world this year. We are incredibly grateful for the support we receive from parishes, schools and families all over Ireland, without whom this work would not be possible.”

Kumba (7) is pictured with her younger sister Fatu (5) as they see their image on this year’s Trócaire box for the first time. Kumba (7) is pictured with her younger sister Fatu (5) as they see their image on this year’s Trócaire box for the first time.: Source: Trocaire

Soberingly, mid-way through the campaign will mark the third anniversary of the civil war in Yemen. More than 9,200 people have been killed since the Saudi-led alliance joined the Yemen war in 2015, according to the World Health Organization, triggering what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

Another nearly 2,200 Yemenis have died of cholera amid deteriorating hygiene and sanitation conditions, the World Health Organisation says.

Yemen’s civil war took a dramatic turn in December when Huthi rebels killed Ali Abdullah Saleh, the country’s toppled ex-president, punishing him for switching sides and seeking peace with the Saudi-led coalition.

Meehan says the conflict can and should be solved.

“This is an entirely man-made crisis. Decisions made for military reasons have led to an entire civilian population facing death by starvation and disease. The decision to do this was made in Saudi Arabia and supported by many other governments, including the USA and UK. It is a war crime and it is time people were held to account for inflicting death, starvation and disease on millions of civilians.

“Yemen is just one tragic example where such reprehensible tactics are being used. In Syria, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and elsewhere civilians are deliberately attacked, denied food and subjected to sexual violence. These assaults are carried out by governments and armed groups to terrify, humiliate and oppress.

“Individual politicians, military leaders and officials who bear responsibility for these actions must be held accountable.”

Read: Why are more and more Irish charities not publishing their financial information?

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