Caritas is appealing to governments, advocating for vulnerable people and calling as well for international assistance not to be stopped or reduced in the midst of the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak. The most vulnerable people must not be forgotten. Read our statement.
«This crisis is currently mainly affecting European and other Western countries, but we must not lose sight of the global South, and those most vulnerable which may be more helpless and in need of global solidarity», said Aloysius John, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis.
Nobody should be left behind and aid must be ensured for everyone, particularly in developing countries, where the pandemic may lead to even more catastrophic consequences than experienced in the West, due to the weakness of health structures and national economies.
Caritas is already operating globally and each of the 165 Caritas member organisations is already coping with the Covid-19 emergency, both raising awareness on how to prevent the virus from spreading and by providing direct services.
Among them, Caritas Venezuela has scaled up efforts in extremely difficult circumstances and with limited resources, providing most vulnerable and marginalised groups with hygiene kits and remote psychosocial and spiritual support to families and elderly.
Caritas Lebanon has mobilised its resources and adapted its services to respond to the epidemic by abiding to strict protection and preventative measures, while still providing crucial food and health assistance.
In this particular moment it is also important to remove all obstacles that prevent States from securing aid to their populations.
Looking at the Middle East, Caritas is drawing attention to the serious impact that economic sanctions and the restrictions imposed by the international community might have both on the healthcare sector and on social fields. In fact, those measures block access to funds, goods and medical equipment that would allow the provision of medical care to people affected by the disease and helping to insure the survival of the population.
Caritas also urges not to leave behind migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, who are more at risk of contagion due to the conditions of their journey, the crowded spaces they live in and their precarious working conditions. Caritas calls on local authorities to ensure their access to basic services, regardless of their legal status.
This has become more obvious and urgent during the pandemic, when lack of access to such a basic service as health care is creating enormous risks for both migrant and host communities. Caritas also reiterates the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ call to world leaders not to block the right to access other countries in order to seek asylum, and to not force people to return to situations of danger.
While coping with a major health crisis, the economic implications of this pandemic must not be forgotten. For instance, many irregular migrant workers have lost their jobs, as they were irregularly employed and cannot reach their workplace, thus losing the main source of protection and financial support for their whole family (also in the country of origin). Caritas urges governments not to exclude any worker from social protection guarantees and to take measures to end illegal work.
Finally, an important lesson must be learned from this tragic pandemic. The fear of death created by COVID-19 and all that we are doing to save lives, must lead us to stop killing through war and violence. As Aloysius John stressed: «This is an important aspect we need to nurture because now that everybody knows what it means to live in fear of death or losing somebody, is the moment to address this and stop the war and conflicts».