Caritas Internationalis’ Christmas campaign is focused on COVID-19. The confederation invites its benefactors to give a safe Christmas to all the people around the world who are suffering because of the pandemic and its dramatic consequences in terms of increased poverty and food insecurity.
Through the COVID-19 Response Fund, promoted by Caritas Internationalis and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, 38 Caritas organisations have supported programmes in to help more than 13.7 million people in countries such as Belarus, Ethiopia, Jordan, Rwanda, Iraq, Greece, Nigeria, Pakistan, Lebanon, Ukraine and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Examples of implemented projects are available in booklet Responding with Love during the COVID-19 pandemic, by Caritas Internationalis.
Caritas Jerusalem, for example, has provided medical assistance in Gaza where about 80% of the population depends on humanitarian aid and about 90% of families have no access to drinking water. Caritas India is carrying out awareness programmes on the prevention of contagion and is providing food assistance and basic necessities.
Caritas South Africa has already received and supported more than 12,000 vulnerable people in six dioceses, mostly migrants who are now at risk of starvation and more vulnerable to the pandemic. Among them, there is an Angolan refugee mother of six.
“This mother told me that Caritas’ help was the answer to her prayers!” says Sister Maria Rissini, director of Caritas South Africa. “But unfortunately there are many families that we are unable to support due to lack of resources and, sadly, we do not have the opportunity to feed the malnourished mothers and children who knock at our door”.
This Christmas, Caritas Internationalis is asking for further help from its benefactors to fund nine more projects in Armenia, Burundi, Cambodia, Eritrea, Georgia, Haiti, Liberia, Mozambique and Sierra Leone.
The projects include the distribution of food parcels and hygiene kits and personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, etc.), as well as awareness-raising programmes on hygiene and the prevention of COVID-19 infection. The programmes also include the distribution of blankets, mattresses, heating fuel, winter clothes and tents to refugees staying in camps, so that they can cope with the cold temperatures of the winter months. Caritas also ensures that children in rural communities can continue their studies through distance learning programmes. Forty-five percent of children in developing countries have no access to the Internet.
“We want to give the most vulnerable people a Christmas where justice, health and love reign,” says Caritas Internationalis secretary general Aloysius John, “And we want to ensure that their rights are respected: the right to be protected, the right to have access to food and water, the right to shelter, the right to education.
The COVID-19 pandemic showed us how interconnected and fragile we are. The fight against the spread of this virus is our collective responsibility. As Good Samaritans, we are called to demonstrate our unconditional universal love, meet the needs of the most vulnerable and bring consolation which can break desolation and create hope when everything is dark. This is the miracle of charity”.