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The Center for Collective Bair, in the Albanian part of Mitrovica, gives shelter to Kosovar Albanian families from northern Kosovo, who were forced to move south after the 1999 war. Shukri Rushiti Hanifi and his daughter at the entrance of the center. Credits: Xavier Schwebel/Secours Catholique-Caritas France

The Center for Collective Bair, in the Albanian part of Mitrovica, gives shelter to Kosovar Albanian families from northern Kosovo, who were forced to move south after the 1999 war. Shukri Rushiti Hanifi and his daughter at the entrance of the center. Credits: Xavier Schwebel/Secours Catholique-Caritas France

The global recession of 2008/2009 has increased the number of people living in poverty across Europe to 85 million and also the number of those living on the breadline.

Delegates from 35 Caritas members in Europe were in Madrid last weekend for the “European Congress on Poverty and Social Exclusion” to press for action alleviating the suffering.

They were joined by Caritas members from Ethiopia, Brazil, Singapore, and the United States, as well as European politicians, statisticians, journalists and representatives of civil society groups.

Spain currently holds the rotating Presidency of the European Union, and Caritas pressed home the need for social justice and the fight against poverty to be key objectives of social action.

As part of the 2010 European Year of Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, Caritas members across the continent have launched the Zero Poverty campaign.

Delegates in Madrid urged European decision-makers to adopt the proposed Europe 2020 strategy during the European Council meeting in June.

Caritas recommends:

  • Reduce by 30 percent the number of people living in poverty
  • Eradicate Child poverty in Europe
  • Decisively improve education and training
  • Ensure a focus on vulnerable groups such as migrants, ethnic minorities, people affected by HIV, and people with disabilities
  • Achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015
  • Achieve a substantial impact on climate change.

Caritas Europa President Fr Erny Gillen said, “Zero poverty is our goal. Everything starts from zero. A zero has the same meaning as equality. We need to restore balance to our system. Injustice is an affront to equality.”

He urged all those on the side of justice to sign the Zero Poverty petition.

Read more on the Congress on the Caritas blog.