Caritas Internationalis official urges focus on overlooked crises

The Secretary-General of Caritas Internationalis lamented the inadequate media coverage of “forgotten emergencies” during a speech delivered during the Caritas Asia Regional Conference in Thailand on June 11.

Jun 12, 2024

Mr. Alistair Dutton, secretary-general of Caritas International, addresses some 100 representatives from 25 Caritas organizations across Asia during the Caritas Asia regional Conference in Bangkok, Thailand on June 11, 2024. Photo by Mark Saludes



BANGKOK: The Secretary-General of Caritas Internationalis lamented the inadequate media coverage of “forgotten emergencies” during a speech delivered during the Caritas Asia Regional Conference in Thailand on June 11.

Speaking to some 100 representatives from 25 Caritas organizations across Asia, Alistair Dutton criticized the international media for prioritizing Western-centric narratives and advocated for a broader, more inclusive approach to humanitarian coverage. 

“Our mission extends beyond responding to crises; it’s about ensuring that all those in need are visible and supported, regardless of their location or the crisis’s scale,” he said.

Celebrating his first year as Secretary General, Mr. Dutton detailed Caritas’s efforts to direct attention and aid to crises overshadowed by conflicts such as those in Ukraine and the Holy Land. 

He noted the lack of media coverage and international focus which causes many emergencies to remain largely unseen.

Mr. Dutton highlighted the ongoing turmoil in Myanmar and the challenging circumstances of the Rohingya refugees, which continue to require substantial humanitarian help. 

He recounted his visits to Bangladesh and Myanmar, observing the ongoing difficulties faced by these populations and the critical support provided by Caritas.

“Caritas is committed to both immediate responses and sustained support in regions where emergencies have become a chronic condition, often overlooked by the international community,” said Mr. Dutton.

He pointed out the organization’s dedication to renewing and deepening relationships in affected regions, nurturing trust and compassion after decades of continuous service.

Mr. Dutton, however, said that while the organization has made significant progress, there remains a vast amount of work ahead.

Further into his speech, Mr. Dutton introduced innovative aspects of Caritas’s humanitarian work, reflecting on advancements in how the organization addresses long-standing and emergent crises. 

He spoke about improvements in the living conditions within refugee camps, citing the organization’s recent work in the Rohingya camps. 

“Since my last visit in 2007, the transformation in the camps is profound. Streets have been paved, proper walkways and stairways installed, and the water and sanitation facilities greatly enhanced. These improvements reflect Caritas’s commitment not just to temporary relief but to sustainable, long-term betterment of living conditions,” he said.

Mr. Dutton also discussed the integration of faith with Caritas’s humanitarian efforts, emphasizing the organization’s Christian foundations. 

“Rooted in the Gospel, Caritas’s mission goes beyond aid—it’s about embodying the Church’s compassion for the poor,” Mr. Dutton articulated, connecting faith-driven values with practical humanitarian actions.

He called for the international nonprofit community to expand its focus and commit to long-term solutions for all crises, not just those that dominate headlines. --Licas News

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