Caritas Bolivia responds to its country's growing humanitarian crisis

Vatican City, 9 June 2005 - As social and political tensions continue to run high in Bolivia, Caritas Bolivia has called on the Caritas Confederation for support and solidarity in dealing with their country's mounting humanitarian crisis. Protests have gained momentum over the last two weeks, with thousands of people descending on the nation's capital, La Paz, and outlying city, El Alto, demanding economic reforms and questioning control over the country's natural resources and moves towards regional autonomy. The country, one of the poorest in the world, is now faced with serious shortages of food, clean water, and fuel.

Caritas Bolivia and the Catholic Church are engaged in dialogue with the Bolivian government and leaders from social groups to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. Bolivian President Carlos Meza has offered up his resignation; however, the move has done little to improve the situation.

Caritas Bolivia is cooperating with the World Food Programme (WFP) to direct emergency food aid to the most vulnerable, namely children, the elderly, and the sick. The Diocesan Caritas of El Alto has also set out to identify needs stemming from the conflict. It is reported that hospitals in La Paz and El Alto urgently need food, oxygen, medicines, and supplies.

An emergency appeal is being put together in the coming days by Caritas Bolivia aimed at providing basic food, medicines, and medical and electrical supplies to those affected in La Paz and El Alto. Caritas United States (CRS), Caritas Spain, and other member organisations have expressed their willingness to assist once an appeal has been launched.

Caritas Internationalis is a confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development, and social service organisations present in over 200 countries and territories.

For more information, contact:
Lynn Yuill
Head of Communications, Caritas Internationalis
Tel: +39.06 698 797 24