A Derry charity worker has written to the Pope asking him to do more to help starving children throughout the world.

Eamonn Melaugh founded the Action with Effect charity several years ago to help street children in impoverished areas of India.

His charity has funded a number of aid missions to India.

However, Mr Melaugh now wants more action taken to save the lives of starving children throughout the world.

He has sent a letter to the Pope and the leaders of other Christian churches in a large number of countries.

Among those who are backing Mr Melaugh’s new campaign are former SDLP leader John Hume.

In his letter, the Derry man describes the fact that thousands of children are starving to death each day as ‘scandalous and immoral’.

“It is universally accepted that a child is the most beautiful thing in all of creation; a very special spiritual gift of God to all of humanity,” he said.

“There is, therefore, a profound moral and spiritual obligation on every member of humanity to cherish, respect, and to protect every child irrespective of race, colour, gender, or creed.

“Painfully, this obligation is being ignored by those institutions and official bodies with the responsibility – and the means – to rectify this terrible situation, in many instances wilfully so.”

Mr Melaugh said churches had a responsibility to protect children.

“There are also millions of Third-World parents who live in social squalor and abject destitution; their children live perpetually on the verge of starvation and every day 26,000 die from the shameful neglect by governments and churches of all hues.

“I am eighty years old and in my lifetime eight hundred million children have perished and suffered an obscene death from starvation or a dreadful disease resulting from prolonged malnutrition.

“Our humanitarian indifference is the chief cause of the unendurable suffering heaped upon totally innocent children who pay with their young lives for our collective neglect.”

In a direct appeal to the Pope, Mr Melaugh said not one person, child or adult, should die for the lack of food in the 21st century.

“Holy Father, I have been impressed by your public utterances to date on the plight of the destitute and I offer you my gratitude on beginning the journey of re-focusing the Church on its core aim of supporting and helping those most in need.

“However, the terrible plight endured by the destitute cannot be resolved by sentiment alone so your welcome words must go beyond rhetoric into the realms of practical application.

“There is a desperate need for the Catholic Church to become more directly involved in caring for the corporal – as well as the spiritual – needs of the starving destitute around the globe.

“Words, no matter how sincere, contain no calories or protein and are a very thin gruel for the starving who deserve more compassionate consideration.

“There is, I believe, not only a moral imperative but a spiritual obligation to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and to provide clean safe drinking water for all.”

John Hume said he was delighted to support Mr Melaugh’s appeal to church leaders.

“Eamon’s efforts make a compelling call on all of us to rally against poverty in the world which is limiting people’s rights, living conditions and lives.

“While high level actions by governments internationally are important, there is also the need for solidarity from churches, communities, aid agencies and individuals.

“Eamon is a truly inspirational character who has shown over time a very strong commitment to helping others and encouraging people here to be mindful of the need not just to appreciate what we have, but to give what we can to assist those in need.”

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