Back to school in Central African Republic

By |30 August 2013|

In March 2013, school abruptly came to an end for thousands of children when Seleka rebels seized power. Armed troops ransacked government buildings, hospitals and schools. Teachers fled to the capital; pupils and their families hid in the fields. In co-operation with Unicef, Cordaid (Caritas Netherlands) has set up a 6-month program to re-open schools. Apart from organising transport for the teachers we will also make sure salaries are paid again. New books and materials provided by Unicef will be distributed and parents will be encouraged to send their children back to school. Cordaid’s Piet van Gils is in Bangui to arrange the transport of the teachers. “It took quite some effort to get everyone registered on time, to provide them with money for the trip and to get them on to a truck. It will take some of the teachers a week to reach their villages. Once they get there [...]

Fighters run amok in Central African Republic capital

By |23 August 2013|

By Clotaire Mbao Ben-Seb, Communications Officer Caritas Central Africa Residents of Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, have been living through days of a deafening concert of gunfire: Kalashnikovs are the tenors, submachine guns are the sopranos and the mortars and rockets are the bass. People stayed awake hiding under the Mango trees until three in the morning to avoid being hit. There have been several deaths and homes have been ransacked. At a community hospital in Bangui, they have 14 patients with gunshot wounds. Six needed surgery. One of them, the son of former President Kolingba, received a bullet that went through his chest and will need specialist care. At the another clinic, the Friendship Hospital, five patients were transferred to trauma care. Over 200 people filled the hallways and hide beneath the Mango trees in the grounds in search of safety. Bodies are being found in homes. […]

Central African Republic on the brink

By |23 August 2013|

Fr Aurélio Gazzera is the local diocesan Caritas director in Bouar in Northern Central African Republic. Rebel Seleka forces seized power in CAR in March, plunging the country into anarchy. The United Nations said last week the country was on the brink of collapse and the crisis was threatening to spread beyond its borders. Caritas Internationalis has launched an international appeal for over €700,000 to support its work for peace and reconciliation, help people meet their immediate needs and re-establish their livelihoods as well as offer basic health services in nine dioceses.Fr Gazzera’s eye-witness accounts have spoken of villages being abandoned as people flee the violence. By Fr Aurélio Gazzera There are makeshift road blocks around Bohong, manned by Seleka fighters. The armed men charge you 1000 CAR francs to enter or leave the town if you’re on a bike, while its 200 CAR francs if you’re on foot. If […]

Thousands in need of aid in South Sudan’s Pibor

By |14 August 2013|

Ongoing violence in South Sudan’s Jongeli State has forced an estimated 100,000 people from their homes into the bush.  The recent clashes include inter-communal violence between Lou Nuer and Murle people. Those who have fled the fighting  and are living in the wilderness have no food, clean water or healthcare. Aid agencies are struggling to reach them due to the fighting and heavy rains that make the roads inaccessible. Caritas is working with the UN’s WFP to distribute food to those displaced and effected by the violence in the Pibor area in Jonglei. Caritas South Sudan has been mobilising diocesan staff and parish volunteers to support the humanitarian response in Jongeli State. Caritas member Catholic Relief Services is also supporting the intervention. Caritas South Sudan said, “A big thank you to the parish volunteers from Archdiocese of Juba and the Dioceses of Tombura-Yambio and Wau. In an act of true solidarity, they are travelling to [...]

A spark of hope for Syrian mothers in Jordan

By |13 August 2013|

By Dana Shahin, Caritas Jordan Hanan Yousef Abdel-Razaq lost her home and a four-year old daughter during an attack on Dara’a in Syria in January. She fled to Jordan with her two remaining children, sons aged five and three. Hanan is one of the over half a million Syrian refugees now living in Jordan because it’s too dangerous to remain in Syria where a bloody civil war is raging into its third year. The refugees come with nothing, and need food, shelter, education and healthcare. One in eight Syrian refugees in Jordan are women or children. “I heard about Caritas first from my sister,” said Hanan. “When I came here to register, they asked me about my family and I said I had two children. They immediately offered me services for me and for my children.” Caritas Jordan has register 130,000 Syrian refugees to receive its aid. They will receive food vouchers, help with accommodation, [...]

Killings reported in Central Africa Republic

By |9 August 2013|

By Clotaire Mbao Ben-Seb, Communications Officer Caritas Central Africa The people of Central African Republic continue to live through a terrifying ordeal. Calm has returned to the capital Bangui, but in the interior of the country, human rights abuses are continuing according to local staff. Fr Aurélio Gazzera is the local diocesan Caritas director in Bouar in northern CAR. He says that there has been violence, robbery and killings against the local people from 25 July. People are experiencing the worst conditions of their lives. Fr Gazzera was part of a fact finding mission to Ouhman-Bac on Sunday 27 July. He says there are reports of between 30 to 50 bodies thrown into the river Ouham. This has caused people to flee from the area. Caritas is seeking to find out further confirmation around the incident. Fr Gazzera says that there is a lack of food, medicine, sleeping mats and tarpaulins for people as the rainy [...]

A reflection on first encyclical of Pope Francis

By |9 August 2013|

By Rev. Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo This first encyclical of Pope Francis offers a profound and comprehensive meditation on the role of faith in the lives of individual Catholics and on its influence in the work of Catholic-inspired organizations such as Caritas Internationalis. Prior to the publication date, on 05 July 2013, the Holy Father himself publicly acknowledged this document as the “work of four hands” since it represents both the writing by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI before his retirement as well as further refinement and original additions by his successor. Some highlights of the encyclical are presented in this brief summary. It must be acknowledged, however, that the encyclical is so rich with Scriptural and other doctrinal citations, as well as with the deep insights of the Holy Father himself, that one cannot even pretend to offer an all-inclusive summary. Thus the reader is strongly encouraged to go to the [...]

Another year and more floods in Pakistan

By |9 August 2013|

Heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan have destroyed thousands of homes, roads, bridges and farms for the third year in a row. The 2010 floods were the worst in recent history, with a fifth of the country underwater. The 2011 and 2012 floods also caused damage across vast areas.

“Go, do not be afraid, and serve”

By |28 July 2013|

World Youth Day gave a crash course in companionship to anyone not used to being with others. Last night millions packed on Copacobana beach to take part in an all night vigil. Many of them took their sleeping bags and slept there.

Young pilgrims fly the flag for Latin America

By |26 July 2013|

Not even the rain could dampen the spirits of the hundreds of World Youth Day pilgrims who went to the church of Santo Aghostino on the outskirts if Rio de Janeiro to hear the catechesis of Caritas president, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga this morning.

Clean up efforts begin in China after quake

By |24 July 2013|

Rescuers are looking for survivors after a strong earthquake hit a poor region of northwest China. About 123,000 people were affected by the quake, which struck at 7.45 on 22 July near the city of Dingxi in Gansu province. Staff members from a local Caritas partner organisation, Jinde Charities, are working with the Lanzhou Social Service Centre. Its staff visited the disaster area on the same day the quake hit to do an assessment. Although  Gansu is one of China’s less densely populated provinces, it is a poverty stricken area. Heavy rain is expected later in the week, raising the need for shelter and increasing the possibility of landslides. China's worst earthquake in recent years struck the southwestern province of Sichuan in 2008. Measuring magnitude 7.9, it left 90,000 people dead or missing. In November, 2011, Jinde conducted a training on emergency response and invited eight church based organisations in China to participate. Lanzhou [...]

Mission to Gaza

By |24 July 2013|

There are 1.7 million Palestinians living in Gaza, a thin strip of land along the Mediterranean, 41 km long and between 6 to 12 km wide. They have been blockaded by Israel since June 2007. A fifth live below the poverty line, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS).
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    What have Pope Francis, Jesus and the Rolling Stones got in common?

What have Pope Francis, Jesus and the Rolling Stones got in common?

By |17 July 2013|

Read the blog in Spanish, in French, or in Portuguese. By Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, President of Caritas Internationalis Like the Rolling Stones a few years before him, Pope Francis will gather to celebrate with millions of young people on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro next week. The occasion will be World Youth Day, an event where the Holy Father will invite the young to “Go and make disciples of all nations”. But many years before these celebrations, there was a more significant joyous meeting on a beach. The one where our risen Lord appeared to the disciples on the shores of the sea of Galilee. (Jn 21:1) The disciples had fished all night and had lost hope. As dawn came, the Lord appeared and told them to cast their net to the other side of the boat. What they brought back up was an abundance of fish. It […]

A slice of Rio in Scotland

By |12 July 2013|

By Val Morgan, SCIAF (Caritas Scotland) Scotland’s Rio is an event for the young people of Scotland to coincide with the World Youth Day being celebrated with Pope Francis in Rio de Janeiro in July 2013. It will take place at Stirling University Campus from Thursday 25 - Sunday 28 July, 2013. We hope to give young people from across Scotland the opportunity to experience something of the celebration of the international World Youth Day. Elizabeth Millar, one of the organisers of the event said, “Scotland’s Rio will be an exciting and inspiring occasion for all involved, and it will give the Church in Scotland a reason to celebrate and be enthusiastic about what young people today can offer the Church both locally, nationally and internationally!” There will be opportunities for celebrating and learning about the Catholic faith through worship and catechesis. The Youth Festival will offer an opportunity to participate in a [...]

Healthcare for Syrian refugees in Lebanon

By |4 July 2013|

By Patrick Nicholson “There were bodies everywhere,” said Ali. “We had two choices if we wanted to live: Turkey or Lebanon. We came to Lebanon because I thought I would find work.” Ali (49), Aaicha (34) and their five children came to Lebanon 18 months ago from Idlib in north-western Syria. The deciding factor was when the next door house was hit by a rocket, killing 18 people. Life in Syria had gotten progressively worse for them since the start of the conflict in early 2011. There was no electricity or running water.  Inflation was rampant. What cost 15 Syrian pounds before the war, now cost 150 Syrian pounds. “You had to stand in line for three hours just to buy bread,” said Ali. And then there were the bombs, rockets and air attacks. When they first arrived in Lebanon, the family lived in a small tent. Now they rent a room in Mount [...]

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