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Caritas volunteers in action in Spain. Caritas volunteers in action in Spain.   (AFP or licensors)

Caritas urges solidarity and fraternity in the battle against Covid-19

As the entire world grapples with the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic, Caritas Internationalis, the global confederation of 165 national Catholic relief and development agencies, is trying to ensure the poor and vulnerable are not forgotten.

By Robin Gomes

Caritas Internationalis is echoing the call of Pope Francis for universal solidarity and fraternity in overcoming the economic and social turmoil created by the coronavirus crisis.

Aloysius John, the Secretary-General of Caritas Internationalis made the call during an online press conference in Rome on Friday.   He appealed for a ceasefire in conflicts, lifting of sanctions and cancellation of the debt of poor countries.

Global solidarity and fraternity

Noting the very high global impact of the pandemic, “with hundreds of thousands of people out of jobs due to lockdown and a slowed global economy,” John said, “it is a major challenge and at the same time it is a call for global solidarity”.

Referring to the appeal of Pope Francis “to look at each other with a sense of solidarity” and act accordingly in order to “get out of this situation together, as a whole humanity”, he said that Caritas Internationalis was promoting promote universal solidarity in a spirit of global fraternity.
The Caritas Secretary-General is meeting the Holy Father on Saturday, to update him on its efforts, especially in the poorest countries, to create solidarity among the people through the local dioceses and parishes. 

The poor and vulnerable

While expressing concern over the impact of the virus on China, Europe and the United States, John said that the main concern of Caritas is to “to prepare the poorer countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, to confront such massive emergency due to a sudden outbreak of the pandemic”.

“The people on the move, the migrants, the asylum seekers and the displaced, are also in highly vulnerable conditions and are already affected by the loss of means of livelihood, precarious living conditions and also lack of basic needs.”

Listen to Aloysius John, Secy-Gen Caritas Internationalis

Caritas expressed special concern for those living in the refugee and IDP [internally displaced persons] camps and regions such as the Middle East, South Sudan and Central Africa, where the pandemic could lead to a major humanitarian disaster in the already fragile situation.

Caritas also has at heart the urban poor who are very vulnerable.

Laudable initiatives

John pointed a few initiatives across the world on how Caritas, through the dioceses and parishes, is fostering solidarity to sensitize people in taking precautionary measures against Covid-19.

The Kindness stations in Filipino dioceses spread information on the virus and share food and basic needs, so no one is left out.

In Armenia, through a telephone helpline, Caritas provides emotional support and closeness to the elderly.

Caritas Jerusalem distributes food and basic need kits to the people in the West Bank and Gaza, through the parishes.
Caritas Venezuela and Italy are organising kitchen soup and distributing nutritious meals to the vulnerable and children.

In this regard, the Caritas General Secretariat in Rome has set up a COVID 19 platform to provide relevant timely information to the confederation members. 

Caritas is also using its experience in dealing with West Africa’s Ebola pandemic to deal with the current crisis.   

Appeals

Underscoring solidarity and fraternity as the need of the hour, Caritas Internationalis called on the international community not to turn away from “the global south which is ever more needed at this moment of tragedy.”

Echoing the call of Pope Francis and the president of Caritas Internationalis, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Caritas urged for a ceasefire in conflicts at this moment of dire need in order to save innocent lives. 

It called for the lifting of sanctions on Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iran so that they can engage in
humanitarian work to help the poor survive.   

Finally, Caritas also repeated Cardinal Tagle’s call for writing off the debts of poor countries, so they can allocate the fund the funds to the micro development activities of the poorest.

03 April 2020, 16:41