Emergencies: Compassion in action

Caritas Mexico’s search and rescue team digs for earthquake survivors in Haiti. Credits: Katie Orlinsky/Caritas

Caritas Mexico’s search and rescue team digs for earthquake survivors in Haiti.
Credits: Katie Orlinsky/Caritas

From the devastating earthquake in Haiti, to the floods in Benin which left 700,000 people homeless, to the battering which the people of the Philippines received from Typhoon Megi, Caritas Internationalis launched 21 joint confederation programmes in 2010, raising  €100million through appeals to its members. 

Caritas works permanently in most of the world’s disaster prone areas. As in the response to the Haiti earthquake, Caritas is able to act quickly and effectively to help people in need. Local teams are able to call on the strong foundations of the confederation for additional support, as in Pakistan when a fifth of the country was flooded after relentless rains in July and August.

These were some of the biggest emergencies of recent years: 2010 was sadly one of the worst for two decades. Nearly 300,000 people were killed in 373 natural disasters and over 200 million were affected, losing their homes, livelihoods or loved ones. It was worse than in 2004, the year of the Indian Ocean tsunami. The United Nations says the economic cost of natural disasters in 2010 was $109 billion, three times that of the previous year. It warned that this may come to look benign unless we tackle climate change, environmental degradation and the growth of slums in cities.

This is a message that Caritas Internationalis is listening to very closely when its members continue working after the initial emergency is over, to help people rebuild their lives. In Haiti, Caritas projects aim to make them better prepared by building stronger homes. It helps them adapt to the more extreme weather patterns brought by our changing climate and to protect themselves and their livelihoods.

Indonesia’s earthquake and tsunami in October generated few headlines. The suffering in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Sudan’s Darfur region also failed to make front-page news. But Caritas has not forgotten these humanitarian crises as we work to provide essential services and to bring peace to communities divided by conflict.

A widow’s mite in Haiti’s earthquake
Caritas Internationalis launched 21 joint confederation programmes in 2010, raising €100million through appeals to its members.
Cholera in Haiti’s camps
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.
Long-term solutions in Haiti
There is a long-term answer to alleviating poverty: helping people build up resilient livelihoods.
Bringing business back to Haiti
Other Caritas programmes in Haiti are tackling the longer-term problem of the poverty trap..
Floods in Pakistan
At the end of August 2010, almost one fifth of Pakistan was underwater. Along its entire length, the Indus river had burst its banks, washing away homes…
Chile overcomes massive quake and tsunami
It was the worst disaster Chile had suffered in half a century, not only a strong earthquake but a tsunami too. .
Recovering from trauma after an earthquake in China
Zhou Ma withdrew into grief when she and her elder 25-year-old daughter were both widowed by the April earthquake in China’s western Qinghai province.
War in Kyrgyzstan
“When I was watching our house burn down, I asked God for only one thing,” said Sohiba Mamatova.
Supporting half a million people in Darfur
Community centres are drawing in more displaced people in Darfur, giving them stronger bonds while also teaching them practical skills …
Caritas Internationalis

President: Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle
Secretary General: Michel Roy

Caritas Internationalis
Palazzo San Calisto
Vatican City State

Reception Desk: + 39 06 698 797 99
Fax: + 39 06 698 872 37
Email: caritas.internationalis@caritas.va

The office is open from Monday to Friday from 8.30 am to 5.00 pm.

If you need to contact a staff member outside of office hours in a humanitarian emergency, please call + 39 334 359 0700 or email emergencies@caritas.va