This year’s Christian Aid Week (13-19 May www.caweek.org), the organisation is highlighting the plight of the millions of people displaced around the world, but who remain within their own countries.
Today, more than 40 million people are internally displaced by conflict, accounting for approximately two thirds of those who find themselves forced from their homes. A further 24 million were displaced by disasters in 2016 alone. Yet, because they haven’t crossed a border, the general public rarely hear about them.
Despite the huge number of people affected, situations of internal displacement receive almost no political attention, funding or support.
In Haiti, thousands of people regularly experience some of the worst natural disasters on earth. The country is one of the poorest in the world, and a high number of its inhabitants live in precarious houses or have been uprooted from their homes entirely, making them especially vulnerable when another disaster strikes. More than seven years on from the devastating earthquake in Port-au-Prince in 2010, an estimated 38,000 people are still displaced.
In November 2016, Hurricane Matthew wreaked yet more havoc across the southern coast of the country, killing 546 people and destroying homes, businesses and infrastructure. Up to 90% of some areas were destroyed.
Vilia was left homeless by the earthquake in 2010 and her Mother was killed. Bereaved and homeless, for Vilia, her husband and their seven children, life became a struggle. They didn’t even have a safe place to sleep.
Christian Aid’s local partner, KORAL, helps local people prepare for disasters. In the aftermath of the earthquake, it reached out to Vilia and built her and her family a new home, that was safe, stable and strong enough to stand up to natural disasters.
Ahead of Hurricane Matthew, KORAL was able to warn local communities, helping to evacuate around 5,000 families and saving many lives. In the immediate aftermath Christian Aid and KORAL distributed urgently-needed shelter materials, hygiene products such as soap, food seeds and cash, so people could buy other items that they really needed. Disaster-resistant homes were built, giving people safe, secure places to live. Of the dozens built before the hurricane hit, only one lost its roof in the disaster, and Vilia’s home was able to shelter 54 people over several days following the hurricane.
Vilia in her new house
David Pain, Director of Fundraising at Christian Aid, said: “Together, we are united in our belief that the world can and must be changed. We are each called to love our neighbours, like Vilia, wildly, wholeheartedly and sacrificially.
“Internally displaced people are rarely at the forefront of the news, but Christian Aid hasn’t forgotten them. We believe everyone counts, and we will continue to fight alongside them for justice.
“So this Christian Aid Week, please stand together with displaced people like Vilia, and help the people of Haiti weather the storm.”
Christian Aid Week unites thousands of churches every year raise money to support our global neighbours in need, who are often suffering through no fault of their own. Just £25 could buy a hygiene kit to prevent disease after a disaster; £5 could buy a jar of seeds so someone like Vilia can grow beans to feed her family; and £210 could pay to train a local builder in Haiti to build safe, secure hurricane-resistant homes.
Christian Aid is asking its supporters to take action, and ask their MP to stand up for the millions of people worldwide who’ve been forced to flee their homes.
This Christian Aid Week, you can help to change the lives of people displaced due to disasters or conflict by donating online at www.caweek.org calling 08080 006 006, or texting ‘GIVE’ to 70040 to give £5.*
*You will be charged £5 plus your standard network rate. Christian Aid will receive £4.88 of your donation. By texting, you are agreeing for Christian Aid to phone or text you to tell you about our work and how you can help. If you wish to donate and not hear from us again, text GIVE NO to 70040. For more info call 020 7620 4444.