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Local civil society groups need more support during times of crisis, Caritas says

Caritas Internationalis, the Catholic Church’s social service arm, has called for greater support for local civil society organisations, especially faith-based ones, which around the world are supporting, helping and empowering local communities.

With the COVID-19 crisis affecting much of the world, the international humanitarian system is being tested like never before, Caritas Internationalis said in a statement Aug. 18 while observing World Humanitarian Day.

COVID-19 has infected over 22 million people worldwide and killed more than 781,360 as of Aug. 18.

Humanitarian missions are currently bringing help to one in about 45 persons around the world, the organization said.

“At a time when the disasters are getting to be more and more complex and the sufferings are high, the first support is given by the local communities which are better placed to bring appropriate help to the affected,” said Aloysius John, secretary general of Caritas Internationalis.

John said governments and international aid community must focus on empowering local civil society organizations, especially faith-based organizations.

Caritas Internationalis urged governments and the international aid community to allocate funds to such organizations to assist them in taking appropriate action during times of disasters.

Local Caritas in Flores, Indonesia distributes masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Caritas Indonesia)
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The statement likewise asked governments and the international aid community to ensure the protection of humanitarian workers as well as the protection of the interests of local communities.

“At a time when the localization agenda is being introduced, it is vital that enough means are given to the civil society organizations to empower the local communities and prepare them for the humanitarian response in autonomy,” John added.

With its headquarters in Rome, Caritas Internationalis is a confederation of over 160 members working at a grassroots level in most countries.

World Humanitarian Day recognizes the work of those who promote the dignity, the protection and the welfare of vulnerable people around the world.

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