WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY: Salesian Missions highlights efforts in more than 130 countries
Day honors worldwide efforts to support people in crisis.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Aug. 19, 2023) Top of Form Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and countries around the globe in recognizing World Humanitarian Day. Celebrated every year on Aug. 19, World Humanitarian Day honors the humanitarian efforts worldwide that support people in crisis.
The day was established by the United Nations to recognize those who face danger and adversity in order to help others. It was designated to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq.
Salesian missionaries are on the forefront of humanitarian efforts in more than 130 countries around the globe and aid in humanitarian relief during times of natural disasters, traumatic circumstances and civil strife.
“Salesian missionaries live within the communities they serve and are perfectly positioned to respond in times of humanitarian crisis,” says Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions. “Whether on the front lines of war in Ukraine or responding to the aftermath of an earthquake in Syria, Salesians provide food, clothing and shelter to those in need. Missionaries also remain through the long recovery process to help families rebuild their homes and salvage their livelihoods.”
In honor and celebration of World Humanitarian Day 2023, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight humanitarian and transformative programming in countries around the globe.
Salesian missionaries are working to address child malnutrition in camps for those internally displaced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.* Salesians in Goma and the surrounding areas are supporting people who have been displaced because of ongoing conflict. The conflict has left more than 5.8 million people displaced across the provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu and Tanganyika, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
Thousands of displaced people have settled on the grounds of Don Bosco Shasha with Salesians providing food and shelter. Those impacted by the war are also going to Don Bosco Ngangi in Goma, where some 28,000 people are seeking shelter on the center’s grounds.
Recently, Salesians have provided additional food support. Don Bosco Ngangi Center in Goma distributed hot meals, milk and cookies to 500 displaced children. Father Carlos Belozi, economer of the East Delegation of the Central African Province, expressed his gratitude to the many donors whose generosity has helped these children who have been traumatized by war.
In addition, Salesian Emergency Coordination developed a new program to give porridge and a meal to children showing signs of malnutrition at Don Bosco Shasha. A Salesian noted, “We are doing our best with limited means. We have had an influx of people coming to the camp and we have limited supplies. Through the generous support of donors, we are doing all we can to provide shelter, nutrition and other necessities.”
Salesian missionaries have been responding with aid for those impacted by the conflict in Ethiopia*, which started in November 2020, in the Tigray region. Recently a peace deal was struck and things are slowly returning to some normalcy. During the conflict, when there were no basic services like phone, electricity, banks or transportation, Salesians provided aid for more than 100,000 people.
Salesian missionaries have been on the front lines of the response to those in need. Tigray has close to 7 million inhabitants who needed aid because of war. Humanitarian organizations were limited in their reach and only about 15 percent of the aid reached those in need. Salesians are in the unique position of living in the communities in which they work. As a result, Salesians have 14 houses in Ethiopia, with four in Mekele, Adigrat, Adwa and Shire in Tigray, and three houses in Eritrea.
Salesians were able to receive support from the World Food Programme for both food aid and essential items. A shipment of goods was sent to the Salesian center in Mekele. From there, it was distributed among many other areas that were in need. Distribution was challenged with no fuel, lack of funding for unloading and loading, and limited transportation. With the support of other Catholic parishes and clergy who volunteered their time, Salesians were able to distribute the goods.
Salesian missionaries with the Don Bosco House in Aleppo opened their doors to those in need after the devastating earthquake that struck southern Turkey and northern Syria* four months ago. Today, thousands of people are still living on the streets. Buildings that once might have been strong enough to withstand the quake had previously suffered decay due to 12 years of civil war in the country.
Funding of almost 2.4 million euro was raised by Salesians around the globe for emergency projects in the aftermath of the earthquake. The emergency aid projects included hosting nearly 800 people at the Salesian Center in Aleppo and the distribution of daily food in remote villages during Ramadan.
Salesian funding also repaired damaged houses and provided academic assistance to youth, as well as supported people with vouchers for food, electricity and basic necessities. More than 220 families received a monthly economic voucher, 116 families received a single voucher for electricity and another 220 families received vouchers for other purchases. Engineers and laborers helped 40 families with reconstruction of their homes.
Thanks to an agreement with a shoe factory, Salesians also distributed 800 pairs of shoes through a voucher for people in need. The aid extended beyond Aleppo. Salesians provided food to 300 people in Kafroun and are currently distributing 450 vouchers for the local market.
February 24 marked one year since Russia invaded Ukraine* in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War. Since that time, 2,700 schools have been bombed and more than 5.5 million schoolchildren have seen their education disrupted by the war. More than 8 million people have fled the country as refugees, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Nearly 18 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian aid.
Since the beginning, Salesian missionaries have been supporting people who remained in the country and those who fled to neighboring countries for protection. Salesians in Poland and Slovakia, among those in other countries, have welcomed refugees and provided shelter, food, medical support and education. Convoys of medical aid have also left Poland to help Salesians who are sheltering people in Ukraine.
Thanks to the aid received, some Salesian schools in Ukraine have been able to remain open and provide education in emergency situations by building shelters and providing support for water, electricity and gas supplies. There is also some psychological support for students, teachers, and families, while some school costs are being covered.
Sixty-six Salesian organizations from five continents have supported more than 100 projects. Projects include the construction of emergency shelters, support to refugees abroad and internally displaced persons, and educational programs and activities for children and youth. There is also a special emergency plan to cope with winter, as well as aid to affected communities with essential medicines, vehicles, field kitchens, food, clothes, tents, blankets and other specific forms of aid requested.
*Any goods, services, or funds provided by Salesian Missions to programs located in this country were administered in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control.
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