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Statement following yesterday’s terror attacks in Brussels from Caritas Europa President

In the aftermath of yesterday’s terror attacks in Brussels, Caritas Europa mourns the unnecessary loss of lives and prays for the prompt recovery of the injured as well as of the families and friends who lost a beloved one.

Caritas Europa opposes the blind hatred of a few lost and confused people with a message of love, solidarity, mercy and peace. The acts of yesterday, which litter the beauty of faith, will not restrain us from continuing to work towards our vision of a fair, open and inclusive society that cares for the dignity of everyone. A society that fosters what we all have in common and that respects and protects the singularities that make us different and unique.

The violence we are facing is the same that pushes millions of people to escape their countries and desperately attempt to reach our shores by any means. Building walls, closing borders and mass-deporting people in need of safety are just a few of the shameful and ineffective reactions that Europe has been able to present until now. These false solutions will not solve anything. On the contrary, they might exacerbate the sentiment of hatred towards Europe and what it represents.

Caritas Europa encourages decision-makers to protect the life, the dignity and the rights of all those who are trying to arrive to Europe in order to escape terror and misery in their homelands.

Msgr. Luc van Looy President of Caritas Europa

Stories of refugee women in honouring the International Women day!

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It’s time to hear the stories of refugee women when shaping asylum and integration policies!


“I left Eritrea together with 64 men, women and children, most of whom were relatives, in December 2012. Our journey took more than 11 months, we walked through 5 countries. I was kidnapped three times by desert gunman and gang raped. I narrowly survived the sinking of a smugglers’ flimsy fishing boat, swimming through waters clogged with the bodies of more than 350 drowned passengers to reach shore. Only 3 of us survived the journey and finally reached Sweden.”

M., refugee from Eritrea

Source: Caritas Sweden


The process of uprooting and resettling in a different country encompasses a variety of practical and emotional issues. On International Women’s Day, the particular plight of migrant and refugee women deserves special attention. It’s important for policy makers to hear the stories migrant and refugee women have to tell.

Historically, women have assumed a leading role when deciding to migrate, whether in response to forced or voluntary migration; whether acting autonomously, as the main providers for their families, or jointly with their partners and children. Yet, the number of women and girls on the move toward Europe has increased dramatically in the last years. According to UNHCR sources, since the beginning of 2016, women and children account for 55% of those reaching Greece to seek asylum in the EU.

Often referred to as the “feminisation of migration”, this population is as large as it is diverse. Some have been forced to leave their homes because of brutality, persecution, and/or poverty; some are fleeing for their lives in search of asylum; some are reuniting with family members; some are seeking economic opportunities due to an overall deterioration in economic and social resources, some are forced into situations of overwhelming insecurity. Many encounter difficulties, particularly as they feel pressure to provide financially for their children; and some have become victims of human trafficking, prostitution, or other forms of exploitation.

Despite their courage to move and to hope for a better situation for themselves and their families, these women and girls are often confronted with multiple challenges en route to Europe, in places of refuge, as well as upon arrival, as they adapt to the integration demands made of them. The diverse ways in which they are received in Europe affects the opportunities they have and, by extension, how they adapt and integrate into the receiving society where they live.

While integration and asylum policies remain a national-level responsibility for individual EU countries, they have become increasingly more important at the supranational level, where efforts to respond to the so-called migration and refugee “crisis” are being prioritized. In this regard, it is imperative that EU Member States start taking into account the specific situation of women and girls in all their policies, particularly in migration, asylum and integration policies, since these policies – including social and labour market policies – clearly affect their chances for success and self-sufficiency.

To ensure, for instance, that women and girls enjoy equal access to asylum, EU Member States need to ensure that female interpreters and interviewers are available for female asylum seekers. Responsible staff should be trained to understand the specific situation of asylum seeking women and girls. Survivors of traumatic events, such as war and violence often feel a loss of safety, sometimes leading to lasting mental traumas. This is also known to influence a refugee woman’s sense of ease in the receiving society, impacting feelings of anxiety of the unknown, unfamiliarity with the receiving society language, surroundings, institutions, resources. Women and girls often suffer from specific violence, such as sexual violence, female genital mutilation or domestic violence, which can be more difficult to prove than other forms of violence when applying for asylum in Europe. Privacy of asylum interviews should be guaranteed to ensure that women can explain their story completely. For this, child care facilities in reception centres are needed to enable women to conduct the asylum interview without being accompanied by their children. Women and girls must be informed about their right, and in particular about the possibility to apply for asylum on their own.

EU Member States must also ensure that women and girls seeking asylum benefit from safe reception conditions. Families should also be enabled to stay together. Otherwise, women and men should be housed separately, and women should have access to private bathing and sanitation facilities. This would contribute to protecting women and girls from violence, including sexual violence, in reception centres.

Despite existing societal structures and stereotypes that women are more vulnerable than men, many women, however, show the opposite is true. They are able to position themselves anew in receiving society contexts, especially when propelled into the workforce. For this, the recognition of their qualifications and skills, including soft skills and informal education is needed. Women and girls must likewise have access to education, language courses and healthcare, in particular psychosocial support when relevant. Adequate and safe housing is also one of the first means by which women and girls can achieve successful integration. Ambitious and effective anti-discrimination policies sensitive to existing inequalities between men and women, between the rich and poor, and across age generations are also greatly needed.

And lastly, in order to protect women and girls from trafficking, survival sex, forced marriage, and other forms of violence, Member States and the European Union should ratify and implement the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. Just as importantly, EU institutions should develop safe and legal routes to Europe, taking into account the specific situation of women and girls when doing so.



Shannon Pfohman, Head of Policy and Advocacy Caritas Europa

Run and walk against hunger: invitation

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Save the Date: 19th October 2014


During the Week of Action (13-19 October, 2014) for the Caritas campaign One human family, food for all, Caritas members around the world will host events to raise awareness of hunger in the countries and abroad. A list of possible activities is below.


As one suggested activity, we invite Caritas member organisations to set aside time at 10.00 am on 19 October, the concluding day of the Week of Action, for a run or walk against hunger.

We have uploaded our last campaign bulletin on Baobab to give you the website where you can learn more about what Caritas Internationalis will be doing on Sunday 19th October 2014 in Rome ( You are welcome to arrange a Caritas run or walk at any time during the Week of Action (13-19 October, 2014).


Audience – participants to be gathered for the race

– Staff and volunteers of Caritas organisations around the world

– People of faith

– Representatives of government/local authorities

– All people of good will who are  sensitive to hunger issues




One human family, food for all offers a unique opportunity for our voices to join as one and for us to work together to end the scandal which is world hunger. The campaign places an emphasis on personal transformation, policy change, and service towards others. The run or walk against hunger further reinforce the momentum already fostered through the Wave of Prayer that launched the food campaign in December 2013. This sports initiative will increase public impact of our call to end hunger and our advocacy on behalf of food security.




Members can organise the run or walk against hunger either independently or in conjunction with an in-country Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) field officer (we can connect you with them).


The Caritas organisations based in Rome (Caritas Internationalis, Caritas Italiana and Caritas Rome) will participate in the run against hunger with FAO, WFP, IFAD and Bioversity International (the four international agencies that form the food and agriculture hub in Rome) to raise awareness of world hunger through a 10K race and a 5K non-competitive walk.


Given that the ‘Hunger Run’ is an FAO-branded initiative, if a national member wishes to arrange it independently of FAO, the name of the event must not be the same as theirs.


As with the Wave of Prayer, Caritas member organisations located in Oceania will be able to open the run at 10.00 am their time. Caritas members are also free to add a symbolic action to the run or walk against hunger, such as the cooking of a special meal, the sharing of bread, etc.


If you combine the Run with government lobbying efforts, CI plans to provide a postcard template and a list of advocacy “asks” you may choose from when contacting your government leaders.


If you choose to host a Hunger Run, please fill in the following information below. Please include additional activities.


Also, please ask people from the communications group from your region to document the event. We ask you to post comments, photos and videos from the event on Facebook and Twitter.


Additional activities for the Week of Action


You are the experts and you know best might interest your own Caritas supporters most. However, if you need ideas, a longer CI list includes:

- Arrange special picnics with the homeless, elderly, or vulnerable.

- Exhibit photos of families in your parish or diocese eating a meal together or share photos of your family’s harvest, especially unusual fruits, vegetables, etc.

– Encourage campaign supporters, if they grow food, to meet and share seeds.

– Reach out to TV chefs and chefs at famous restaurants, encouraging them to 1) Publicly cook recipes from Caritas projects in the developing world; 2) Cook using leftovers; 3) Cook using a staple ingredient from the developing world.

– Hold your own cooking competition using leftovers or staple foods of the developing world.

- Recipe book. Caritas supporters worldwide share best recipes and we create a PDF. This could include a “leverage your leftovers” component about recipe that prevent food waste, or “donate your diet”—describe your diet or day(s) of fasting to contribute to Caritas.

- Project words and images, such as an image of a woman farmer, on iconic buildings.

– And of course…Masses, prayer vigils, and Church-based events for the Week of Action


Raising awareness and funds


October is also Mission Month. We encourage all members to please make contact with national and local Diocesan offices that plan on collecting funds for their missions to coordinate their respective initiatives.


Each and everyone counts! Get fit and run with us for a great cause.


Thank you for your continued support!


The Campaign Steering Committee

CRS Επίσκεψη στην Κάριτας Κύπρου – Ενίσχυση της Αλληλεγγύης/ CRS visiting Caritas Cyprus

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Ο Σεβασμιότατος Αρχιεπισκόπος Μαρωνιτών Κύπρου κ.κ. Ιωσήφ Σουέηφ, Πρόεδρος της Κάριτας Κύπρου και μέλος του Εκτελεστικού Συμβουλίου της Διεθνούς Κάριτας μαζί με το συμβούλιο της Κάριτας Κύπρου, απεύθυναν πρόσκληση στον Εκλαμπρότατο Καρδινάλιο   Theodore E. McCarrick, επίτιμο Αρχιεπίσκοπο της Ουάσιγκτον και Σύμβουλο CSIS (Caritas Sistemo Informativo Sociale), καθώς και στους Sean L. Callahan (Ανώτερο αξιωματούχο των υπηρεσιών ανακούφισης της Καθολικής Εκκλησίας) και Kevin Hartigan (Περιφερειακό Διευθυντή για την Ευρώπη, Μέση Ανατολή και Κεντρική Ασία), να επισκεφθούν την Κύπρο από τις 15 -17  Σεπτεμβρίου 2013.

Η Κάριτας είναι μια συνομοσπονδία 164 Ρωμαιοκαθολικών οργανώσεων που ασχολούνται με την ανακούφιση, ανάπτυξη και κοινωνική υπηρεσία σε περισσότερες από 200 χώρες και περιοχές παγκόσμια. Σε συλλογικό και ατομικό επίπεδο, αποστολή τους είναι η εργασία για την οικοδόμηση ενός καλύτερου κόσμου, ειδικά για τους φτωχούς και καταπιεσμένους. Υπάρχουν 625 χιλιάδες εθελοντές που εργάζονται σε αυτές τις χώρες.  Η Κάριτας είναι  μια εκδήλωση αγάπης για όλους τους αδελφούς και αδελφές σε όλο τον κόσμο. Στόχος της είναι η προστασία, υπεράσπιση και προώθηση της ανθρώπινης ζωής ανά τον κόσμο, με την άμεση κάλυψη βασικών αναγκών και προώθηση λύσεων σε κάθε αδικία.  Με άξονα το Ευαγγέλιο του Χριστού για την αγάπη, διατήρηση και στήριξη της ιερότητας και της αξιοπρέπειας κάθε ανθρώπινης ζωής, η Κάριτας προάγει την φιλανθρωπία και την δικαιοσύνη, κοινωνικά και ηθικά διδάγματα με στόχο την προώθηση της ανθρώπινης ανάπτυξης για αντιμετώπιση σοβαρών καταστάσεων έκτακτης ανάγκης, την καταπολέμηση των ασθενειών και της φτώχειας και την προώθηση ειρηνικών και δίκαιων κοινωνιών.

Η αντιπροσωπεία θα συναντηθεί με την Α.Ε. τον πρόεδρο της Κυπριακής Δημοκρατίας κύριο Νίκο Αναστασιάδη και με την Αυτού Μακαριότητα Αρχιεπίσκοπο Κύπρου Χρυσόστομο ΙΙ. Θα επισκεφθεί επίσης διάφορες περιοχές του νησιού, τις κύριες πόλεις (Λευκωσία, Λεμεσό, Λάρνακα και Πάφο), καθώς και τα Μαρωνίτικα χωριά.

Ο καρδινάλιος McCarrick έχει επισκεφθεί πολλές χώρες ως υπερασπιστής των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων, χαρτογραφώντας τις ανθρώπινες ανάγκες ανά το παγκόσμιο και προάγοντας τις αξίες της αγάπης, της συμφιλίωσης και της ειρήνης.


His Excellency the Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus – President of Caritas Cyprus and member of the EXBO of Caritas Internationalis, Youssef Soueif, together with the council of Caritas Cyprus, have addressed an invitation to His Eminence Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington D.C and CSIS Counselor (Caritas Sistemo Informativo Sociale), along with a delegation of two escorts, Sean L. Callahan (Chief Operating Officer of Catholic Relief Services and member of the EXBO of Caritas Internationalis ) and Kevin Hartigan (Regional Director for Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia), to visit  Cyprus from 15 -17  September 2013.


Caritas is a confederation of 164 Roman Catholic relief, development and social service organizations operating in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. Collectively and individually their mission is to work on building a better world, especially for the poor and oppressed. There are 625 thousand volunteers working throughout these countries. Caritas is a manifestation of love for all brothers and sisters around the globe. Its aim is to protect, defend and advance human life around the world by directly meeting basic needs and advocating solutions to injustice. Motivated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ to cherish, preserve and uphold the sacredness and dignity of all human life, it fosters charity and justice, and embodies social and moral teaching acting to promote human development by responding to major emergencies, fighting disease and poverty, and nurturing peaceful and just societies.


The delegation will meet with H.E. The President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Nikos Anastasiades, and with His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos II, and will also visit various regions on the island; the main cities (Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca, Pafos), areas of high awareness in need, and the Maronite villages.


Cardinal McCarrick has visited many nations as a human rights advocate and in surveying humanitarian needs worldwide promoting the values of love, reconciliation and peace.