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  • Northside East

Bayside woman visits Ethiopia

Wednesday, 13th December, 2017 1:00pm
Bayside woman visits Ethiopia

Clare travelled to Africa as part of her work with Concern Worldwide.

Bayside woman visits Ethiopia

Clare travelled to Africa as part of her work with Concern Worldwide.

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A NORTHSIDE woman has spoken of her devastation at seeing the true impact of conflict during a recent visit to Ethiopia.

Bayside native Clare Ahern recently travelled to the African country as part of her work with Concern Worldwide, visiting a camp in Gambella that is now home to thousands of refugees displaced by ongoing civil war in South Sudan.

Clare, who works as Web Editor with the humanitarian aid agency, said the impact on the country has been “devastating”.

“What these people have been through is completely unthinkable,” she told Northside People. 

“We met a young woman called Nyakoun who had ran for six days with her baby daughter in her arms after both of her brothers were shot in front of her. 

“She now lives in a refugee camp, unsure whether her husband is still alive. She’s left everything behind and is completely dependent on aid to survive.”

Almost two million people have been forced to flee to neighbouring countries since the war began, with 4.8 million of the country’s 12.2 million population now severely food insecure.

Clare said this isn’t the first time that many of the refugees have been forced to leave their homes due to conflict. 

A man in his 30s, who was helping with translation during Clare’s trip, revealed that he had previously left South Sudan as a child, as tensions escalated between the north and south of the country.

“He returned in his 20s to work in an incredible job in child protection, helping to reunite children who had been separated from their parents,” she said.

“He clearly loved it but was forced to leave again in 2013 when war set in, as they were targeting well-educated people.

“He has been in Gambella for four years now but he doesn’t feel like he is able to provide for his family so is talking about going back. 

“He doesn’t want to wait for the war to end. He was six years as a refugee previously and another four now. 

“That’s ten years, almost a third of his life. It’s terrible to think of all of his potential being wasted.”

Concern Worldwide is currently providing life-saving nutrition to refugees in Gambella and South Sudan and Clare says that while people can often feel helpless when seeing humanitarian crises on the news, even the smallest gestures can make a big difference.

“The generosity and kindness of the Irish people is really amazing,” said Clare. 

“I don’t think people realise how much of a difference their donations make to people’s lives. 

“For example, there was one man in Ethiopia who had been living in a hut and began farming through a Concern programme. 

“With the money he made, he managed to build a brick house, start saving and send his kids to school. 

“He was so proud and happy at what he had achieved. It changed his life entirely and that’s an incredible thing to be a part of.”

Concern Worldwide is an international humanitarian  organisation dedicated to tackling poverty and suffering in the world’s poorest countries.

To find out more about Concern’s work or if you would like to contribute to the charity’s Christmas appeal, visit


Clare travelled to Africa as part of her work with Concern Worldwide.

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