May 9, 2012

Delivering aid inside Syria

By |9 May 2012|

Selim* has been working for Caritas Syria in Aleppo for three months helping people with food and other aid. He says Aleppo has been hit hard by the economic crisis in Syria. The conflict and international sanctions have led to high levels of inflation and unemployment across the country. Caritas helps poor families and especially the elderly with food. Programmes are just getting underway, and so far they have helped 120 families and 45 elderly. Selim says Caritas is also able to send aid to the conflict-hit city of Homs. The city has been a centre for the opposition. Heavy fighting over control of the city between the opposition and the government began twelve months ago and climaxed in March 2012 with a major government offensive.

Syrian church calls for an end to cycle of violence

By |4 May 2012|

By Patrick Nicholson The Catholic Church in Syria has made this powerful statement on the crisis there, where daily violence continues to have a deadly toll and more people are crossing the borders to neighbouring countries. The statement is in French. It’s calling for an end to the violence and especially all forms of intimidation such as kidnappings and assassinations. It supports the humanitarian mission of UN Envoy Kofi Annan and especially the need to demilitarise the streets. The Syrican church says in the statement (my translation), “The violence has gone beyond the limit and we can only forcefully urge wise minds to come to their senses and abondon all that is destroying the people and the country.” The Syrian church is saying it stands in solidarity with all Syrians as they seek a dignified life. It supports the reform process, the need for a democratic and pluralistic society and […]

April 27, 2012

Sold out: Migration and human trafficking in Nepal

By |27 April 2012|

In Asia’s slums or impoverished villages, women and teenage girls will listen when a well-dressed stranger offers them a job. In Nepal, a poor country on the northeast border with India, thousands of young women leave their homes in search of work abroad. Sometimes the jobs offered are legitimate—the women earn money and help their families. But sometimes they are sold by human traffickers and are forced to work for free. In the worst cases, they are beaten or forced into prostitution. Click on the photo to the left to see an audiovisual feature about the problem—and to find out what Caritas is doing to help. Photos by Katie Orlinsky or Laura Sheahen Audio by Laura Sheahen

FAQs on human trafficking in Nepal

By |27 April 2012|

What is human trafficking?  Human trafficking is a crime in which traffickers deceive and recruit people, often across national borders, for the purpose of exploitation (forced labour, beggary, prostitution or removal of organs). Traffickers often lure impoverished victims with false promises of good jobs. When a person is working against their will, is not being paid, and is unable to leave--or if the conditions of their work are not regulated--they may be victims of trafficking. Where is Nepal and what is happening in Nepal?  Nepal is an extremely poor country on the northeast border with India. Due to poverty and lack of jobs, many Nepali people consider working abroad to earn money for their families. What kinds of fake jobs are being offered?  Unscrupulous employment agents in Nepal might offer teenage girls work as a housemaid, or offer to make them a movie star in India. Other agents offer men construction jobs in the [...]

In Nepal, a Walk Down Cheat Street

By |27 April 2012|

Caritas tries to offer at-risk people other options, giving small loans to poor women.

Mali gets worse says Church

By |20 April 2012|

Fears are growing over the humanitarian situation in northern Mali. Some 268,000 people have now fled northern areas seized last month by Tuareg rebels and Islamists.

March 28, 2012

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    Caritas Jordan aiding Syrian refugees while Pope pledges Caritas Syria Easter donation

Caritas Jordan aiding Syrian refugees while Pope pledges Caritas Syria Easter donation

By |28 March 2012|

Refugees continue to flee conflict in Syria to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Meanwhile, the Vatican has announced that Pope Benedict’s Holy Thursday Mass collection in St. John’s basilica will go  to Caritas Syria for humanitarian assistance to Syrian’s forced from their homes because of the conflict. In the latest update from Caritas Jordan, staff say the number of registered Syrians with them has reached 900 families in Mafraq and Ramtha, comprising 4500-5000 individuals. About 20 individuals are registering daily with Caritas; some are legally staying in Jordan while others managed to jump over the fence and got into the Jordanian territories that way. After carrying out a distribution of household items in Ramtha and Mafraq two weeks ago, Caritas managed in the past three days to distribute blankets, heaters, bed linens, quilts, towels, plastic mats, sanitary pads, mattresses and jerry cans to 200 Syrian families in Mafraq. This batch targeted […]
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    Caritas in Lebanon and Jordan doing more to help Syrian refugees

Caritas in Lebanon and Jordan doing more to help Syrian refugees

By |23 March 2012|

By Patrick Nicholson Syrian refugees continue to flee into neighbouring Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. They’re trying to escape fighting between government and opposition forces that began last March. Caritas members in the region are looking to respond to the growing needs of the refugees. Living conditions are difficult. Hamid* brought his wife and children from Tal Kalakh in Syria to Wadi Khaled just across the border in northern Lebanon as soon as fighting started in March 2011. He said he feared that the situation would go from “bad to very bad” because of sectarianism and thought it safer to leave while he could. His family of six have lived for six months in one of the rooms of an old abandoned school building. Fifteen families live in the school. The rooms are tiny, damp and cold. His wife couldn’t cope so she went home at one point. “I would have […]

Happy to be home in Nepal

By |22 March 2012|

By Laura Sheahen Thirty-year-old Madhu Tharu has been working for other people since she was a little girl. A bonded labourer in a village of bonded labourers, the Nepali woman basically belonged to her landlord. The system of serfdom that trapped her wasn’t abolished in Nepal until the early 2000s. So for years, she worked all day. Her brothers, at least, were allowed to go to school. As a kamalari--a servant girl-- she wasn’t. As teenagers, Madhu and thousands of girls like her were prime targets of traffickers, criminals who sell girls into forced prostitution or forced labour. As adults, women like Madhu are prime candidates for overseas work as housemaids. Uneducated and impoverished, they sometimes face physical and sexual abuse when working for Middle Eastern families in places like Kuwait. Though some women do indeed earn money when they go abroad, the risks of migration are serious.  Even in the best [...]
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    Alem’s life is over, but her story is not: ending domestic worker abuse in Lebanon

Alem’s life is over, but her story is not: ending domestic worker abuse in Lebanon

By |22 March 2012|

Recently, a viral video showing the abuse of an Ethiopian migrant in Lebanon shocked those who saw it. The Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center (CLMC) has worked with abused housemaids for years and sends us this timeline in the life of Alem, who was known to CLMC staff. By Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center Staff Like over 200,000 migrant women in Lebanon, Alem Dechasa-Desisa, a 33-year-old Ethiopian, made the difficult choice to leave her family and two children, and come to Lebanon as a housemaid to improve her family’s living conditions. Unlike many women who are able to realise this dream, Alem faced the harsh reality that some domestic migrant workers experience in Lebanon. In the video, Alem’s employment agent showed publically, in the streets of Beirut, the same treatment that some employers keep secret and hidden. Before LBCI news released the video on 8 March, the International Woman’s Day, the TV […]

Dangerous trains

By |16 March 2012|

Trains are the main means of transport used by migrants from Central America to cross Mexico and reach the border with the United States. But climbing onto their roofs or perching between two rail cars is a dangerous undertaking.
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    On board trains to the United States, migrants are not alone

On board trains to the United States, migrants are not alone

By |16 March 2012|

It is 7:30pm, in Amatlan, in the province of Cordoba Veracruz. The train whistle blows in the distance. In Norma Romero Vazquez' kitchen, headquarters of the "Patronas ", women bustle about.. Carmen, 90, the oldest of the women in the family, takes a crate filled with bags of food. Along with her daughters and granddaughters, Carmen goes to the railway that passes about ten meters away from her house. Over a distance of a kilometer, the fifteen women share the crates out between themselves. When the light of the train appears, they get as close as possible to the tracks and stretch out their arms laden with food bags. "God bless you", cry the migrants aboard the goods train. In a few minutes, the train has gone. Back to Norma's kitchen. For over 15 years, Carmen, Norma and the others have been handing out food, clothing and medicines to the migrants on [...]
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    Caritas in Mexico: Standing alongside migrants who are hostage to violence

Caritas in Mexico: Standing alongside migrants who are hostage to violence

By |16 March 2012|

Criminal gangs are not the only danger that migrants must face. Private security forces responsible for the protection of trains and goods, and some representatives of the State (federal police, migration officers) also take part in exploiting the weakness of migrants.

Home alone in Nepal

By |16 March 2012|

By Laura Sheahen “Where’s your mother?” Usually when you ask small children this question, the answer is predictable: At home. At the market. At work, a few kilometres or a drive away. In villages of Nepal, a deeply impoverished country on India’s northeast border, children answer differently. “In Kuwait.” “In Saudi.” “She’s in a foreign country.” Mahesh Upadhaya is older—he’s 17. “My mother went to Saudi Arabia for two years. I was 15 when she left,” says Mahesh, who lives in an area of western Nepal called Bardiya. “When my mother wasn’t here, I couldn’t go to school. I had to do chores and work in the fields.” Mahesh’s father is deaf, and as the oldest of five children, Mahesh had to help the family get by until his mother began sending home the money she earned as a maid for a Saudi Arabian family. About 200,000 Nepali women like […]

Caritas aid reaches Syrian refugees in Lebanon

By |16 March 2012|

“The situation is bad,” said Fatima*. She had arrived from Syria into Lebanon that morning with five of her seven children. They’d fled from Kosayr, a suburb of Homs that’s currently undergoing heavy shelling as fighting continues between the government and opposition forces. Her husband stayed on while her teenage boys were stopped from leaving. She and the rest of the children had walked two hours across the border. They’re staying in a bare concrete storeroom, normally used for farm equipment. The refugees brought nothing with them. Snow still covers the mountains of the Bekaa Valley. It’s cold and windy in the remote rural border area. There are two mats on the floor of the room and a crate of empty cola bottles. There is no heating. Caritas Lebanon is carrying out an aid distribution in Bekaa and gives them a box of food, with pasta, rice, oil and other bare [...]

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