International concern for humanitarian crisis in Colombia

By |11 November 2011|

The Caritas Working Group for Colombia says the human rights situation in Córdoba continues to be critical.

New homes for Haitians

By |11 November 2011|

Almost two years on from the earthquake of 12 January 2010, more than 600,000 people are still displaced in camps. They live in extremely precarious conditions and their health security is at risk.

Haiti: Nous chantons la vie

By |3 November 2011|

Écoutez Jour férié à Port au Prince. Aujourd’hui, la ville commémore ses morts, nous sommes le 2 novembre. La première visite que le chauffeur de Caritas Haïti me propose est à la cathédrale de la ville. Ce bâtiment imposant a été détruit lors du séisme du 12 janvier 2010. Il ne reste que certaines parties de la structure qui laisse imaginer la splendeur passée de la bâtisse. La façade est magnifique, quelques vitraux sont toujours perchés tout comme une des cloches que l’on aperçoit en haut d’une tour encore debout. Lorsque vous pénétrez à l’intérieur, vous ne pouvez pas échapper à une étrange émotion. Le recueillement est de mise, la prière aussi. Ici, plus d’une centaine de personnes ont trouvé la mort. Lorsque la terre s’est mise à trembler, elles chantaient des louanges, faisaient monter leurs voix vers le ciel, la chorale majeure de Port au Prince était en pleine répétition. De l’autre [...]

Healthcare becomes accessible in Trianon, Haiti

By |30 October 2011|

On this Saturday 5 November the people of Trianon are celebrating. Today the Caritas Hinche – Trianon health centre is being inaugurated, a major event for this small community from the Central Plateau region in Haiti.

One in ten Colombians forced from their homes by conflict

By |15 October 2011|

By Adriana Arrieta Peace remains elusive in Colombia. Over 45 years of civil war has forced one in ten people from their homes today. Every day a Colombian is stripped of his belongings, his home or his life. His dreams, desires, and hopes are stolen. Many are forced to migrate to another city in which they can live in peace. Others have no choice but to abandon the country, in hope of fleeing from all the problems that afflict them and with which the government has been unable to help with. Figures from the NGO Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement (CODHES) show 280,000 people were forced from their homes in Colombia in 2010 alone. They say Colombia has the highest combined internally displaced and refugee population in the world ( 5.28 million). It is a huge humanitarian crisis that most of the world has forgotten, and “international public awareness about the gravity of our [...]

Archbishop Óscar Romero lives on

By |30 August 2011|

It is thirty years since Óscar Romero was assassinated while celebrating Mass. As Archbishop of San Salvador he spoke out against the brutal regime that oppressed the people of his country.
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    American dream ends in mass graves for migrants heading north

American dream ends in mass graves for migrants heading north

By |11 July 2011|

By Fr. Francisco Gallardo, director of the Caritas migrant house at Matamoros, near Mexico’s border with the USA.  People leave their homes in search of the “American dream” but they end up coming to us looking for lodging, clothes and help. Many of them arrive completely exhausted. There are people who’ve been kidnapped and who come to us full of fear. They’ve been tortured and abused and are in a pitiful state. Most of those who come to us are men. There are very few women and children. Sometimes people come with children but they can’t prove they are their parents. We think that they’re taking the children to their real parents in the US. We’ve been working with migrants in this diocese for the past 24 years. Originally, we opened our doors to migrants who came from the centre and the south of Mexico. But then the situation became more dramatic and [...]

Long-term solutions in Haiti

By |7 July 2011|

There is a long-term answer to alleviating poverty: helping people build up resilient livelihoods. Secours Catholique, the French national Caritas, worked with local people to improve their food production, supporting the most vulnerable with food rations so they did not fall back on eating seed stocks. Through food-for-work programmes in Les Cayes in southern Haiti, Secours Catholique helped communities to build flood defences. Now, extreme weather will not carry off their crops, as it has done in other years. A sustainable and safer future has also been the focus in rebuilding houses. “It’s all different now.We are a lot more careful when we build,” said LucienWilner, a carpenter trained and employed by Cordaid, the Caritas member from the Netherlands. “Before the earthquake we did not build in this way, but now we won’t get so many people dying.” Lucien is part of a programme to tackle Haiti’s 50 percent unemployment [...]

Bringing business back to Haiti

By |7 July 2011|

Other Caritas programmes in Haiti are tackling the longer-term problem of the poverty trap while at the same time helping people get back on their feet after the tragedy of January 2010. Caritas Slovakia noticed that local businesswomen were struggling to keep their enterprises afloat after the earthquake. So many Haitians were hard up they couldn’t afford to buy things like clothes in the markets so the women stallholders were about to go bust. Caritas Slovakia launched a micro-finance programme, “Mothers of the Market”, in June, starting with 20 women. The women were given business training to complement the practical experience they already had and a one-off grant of $500. Another 30 women began training in October. One of them is Daphney Nozan, a 26-year-old single mother with a seven-year-old daughter. Daphne’s clothes stall was failing but began to prosper again after the training: she made a clever switch to [...]

Chile overcomes massive quake and tsunami

By |7 July 2011|

It was the worst disaster Chile had suffered in half a century, not only a strong earthquake but a tsunami too. Two million people were affected. Caritas’s emergency response began immediately: its strong local networks helping it reach the most vulnerable people in the most remote areas, often more rapidly than the government could.

A widow’s mite in Haiti’s earthquake

By |7 July 2011|

The fragility of Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, was all too clear. The earth convulsed and down tumbled the weak homes, schools and hospitals. More than 230,000 people were killed by the earthquake and over three million affected, in the slum-plagued capital, Port-au-Prince, nearby towns like Jacmel and Léogâne and elsewhere. The 12 January brought one of the biggest disasters in recent times to the people of Haiti. Caritas’s long-term presence meant it could respond to the emergency right away. Caritas Haiti has a strong national network, with 10 offices in dioceses across the country. Other Caritas members like Catholic Relief Services from the USA and Caritas Switzerland are well established in Haiti. Just across the border, Caritas Dominican Republic helped quickly set up an emergency relief pipeline. Near neighbour Caritas Mexico immediately sent three nuns who were qualified nurses and a search and rescue team who pulled [...]

Cholera in Haiti’s camps

By |7 July 2011|

Caritas’s humanitarian experience had helped it recognise that crowded camps, with limited clean water and poor sanitation, were the perfect combination for another brewing disaster: a cholera outbreak. Caritas had begun distributing soap and building stand pipes and latrines as soon as possible after the earthquake. “For some people, it is the first time they have proper access to water,” said Yves-Marie Almazor of Catholic Relief Services (CRS). But it wasn’t enough to stop the cholera time bomb going off in October; by the time it was brought under control, 100,000 Haitians had fallen ill and 2,300 had died. Again, Caritas’s seasoned presence on the ground enabled it to act fast. In the first 48 hours of the outbreak, Caritas Haiti in Gonaïves gave out over 170,000 water purification tablets, hand disinfectants, rehydration salts and antibiotics. In hard-hit Artibonite, CRS delivered hospital beds for patients who otherwise lay on the ground. Staff [...]

Peace week in Colombia

By |7 July 2011|

You’d be forgiven for thinking that four million people forced out of their homes, up to 30,000 “disappeared” and 6,000 maimed by landmines would keep the crisis in Colombia on the front pages. Yet the story of Colombia’s 40 years of conflict and the price people like Luz Mila and her family have paid is now rarely reported. Luz Mila struggles through tears to tell her story. It is one of terror, suffering and loss: “ The second time the heavily-armed woman guerrilla told us to leave, I asked what about our farm, our animals? She told me that I could replace my animals, but not my children. I knew then there would be no third warning. We would be killed.” Luz had already survived both the guerrillas and the army terrorising her family inside their house. Luz and her three children fled to a shantytown house of bamboo, mud and [...]

Caritas anniversaries

By |7 July 2011|

The strength and history of the Caritas confederation shone strongly in 2010 with several members celebrating significant anniversaries.

Caritas in Uruguay to tackle urban and domestic violence

By |28 February 2011|

Urban and domestic violence has become a more pressing problem in Uruguay. Caritas Uruguay decided to push forward peaceful conflict resolution programmes throughout the country.

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