Caritas Recommits to the Poorest in Latin America

22 Organizations Sign Lima Charter

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LIMA, Peru, JULY 8, 2005 ( Directors and emergency aid administrators of Latin American and Caribbean Caritas organizations signed a renewed commitment to aid the poorest populations in emergency situations.

Called the Lima Charter, the document summarized the conclusions of the first Meeting of Solidaristic Cooperation and Emergencies, held in Lima.

Caritas organizations from 22 countries took part in the meeting, as well as the directors of the Caritas Internationalis world confederation, and the U.S. Catholic Relief Services, Caritas-Chile told ZENIT.

The document, subtitled «Transforming Death into Life and Hope,» is the fruit of reflection influenced by natural disasters, such as the floods in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the tsunami in Asia and the earthquake in Chile, and by manmade problems, such as the strife in Bolivia and Colombia.

«This situation of structural vulnerability profoundly affects the lives of 220 million people who live in abject poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean,» states the charter.

Aware that we «fulfill an important role in evangelization, emphasizing the Gospel’s social dimension and constructing signs of the kingdom in our continent,» Caritas organizations «make every effort, day after day, to transform the factors of death into signs of life and hope,» seeking to give a response of «solidaristic action in the face of emergencies.»


Because of this, those in charge in Latin America and the Caribbean commit themselves in their charter to continue to devise emergency plans that anticipate and reduce the risks of the continent’s most vulnerable sectors.

In particular, the signatories will pay special attention to «the conditions that generate the vulnerability of the poorest,» and will try to incorporate «risk management» in their work, in order to «build solidaristic self-management models in the prevention and care of emergencies,» consolidating in this area «institutional and community teams» which work in a coordinated way «as national, zonal, regional and world networks.»

The signatories also committed themselves to exchange experiences, provide feedback and strengthen their communications, and to influence «public policies to put an end to violence and militarism, and to improve the care of vulnerable populations.»

The Lima Charter includes an appeal «to all agents in the emergency field,» so that they will continue to highlight «development actions» that, while respecting the culture of peoples and communities, «will be collaborators of their endeavors in order to reduce risks effectively in face of natural and social threats.»

«Today more than before, we face the challenge of influencing our society so that solid public preventive systems will exist that not only contribute to prevent emergencies with early warnings, but focus on the causes of the vulnerabilities of the poor sectors, of those that are obliged to build on sand because the rocks have exorbitant prices,» states the charter.

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