One of the worst hit areas of Gaza. Addressing trauma in children helps prevent serious mental illness. Credits: Katie Orlinsky/Caritas

One of the worst hit areas of Gaza. Addressing trauma in children helps prevent serious mental illness. Credits: Katie Orlinsky/Caritas

Caritas peacebuilding is making a difference. From urging dialogue in Uganda, the Holy Land and Sri Lanka to promoting reconciliation between Catholics and Muslims in the Philippines, Nigeria and Tanzania, Caritas plays a critical role in peacebuilding around the globe.

The north of Congo experienced renewed attacks by Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) fighters, which also spilled over into the Central African Republic, Chad and Sudan. Villages and churches were destroyed, women and girls abused, and children abducted.

Caritas provided aid and lobbied governments for better security in Congo. Caritas helped survivors come to terms with the tragedy by hosting cultural events where people of different ethnic backgrounds sang, danced and performed in plays expressing compassion for those murdered, raped or abducted.

“These cultural events help the population overcome the trauma of the massacres and also act as a challenge to the government to restore peace,” said Benoit Kinalego, a local Caritas Congo partner.

As bombs fell on Gaza and Israel in January, Caritas staff met Israeli and Palestinian officials at the United Nations and in Jerusalem along with local Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities to open avenues for dialogue. Caritas lobbied for humanitarian access to Gaza, protection of all civilians and an end to the military action.

“The Gospel reassures us that God can make all things new, that history need not be repeated, that memories can be healed, that the bitter fruits of recrimination and hostility can be overcome,” said Pope Benedict on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in May.

As well as providing aid in conflict situations, our work in 2009 included:

  • Helping communities to find their own solutions to conflict
  • Brokering peace deals between warring parties
  • Holding military forces to the Geneva Conventions
  • Collaborating with regional and global actors to seek peace