Caritas Vietnam Begins Work

Government Gives OK After 32-Year Hiatus

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ROME, OCT. 28, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Caritas Vietnam has reopened operations after 32 years without working in the Communist country.



The aid organization began work Oct. 22, with the approval of the government. It will focus on emergency relief and integral human development.

Caritas Vietnam has applied for but not yet received membership of Caritas Internationalis.

The president of Caritas Vietnam, Bishop Dominique Chu Trinh of Xuan Loc, said the Church in Vietnam was committed to accompanying the poor and to extending its services to all persons in need, regardless of their faith.

"Rural poverty is a main challenge," a statement from Caritas explained. "The majority of the population of 77 million live in rural areas and are dependent on agriculture. Decades of conflict ending in 1990 have left infrastructure in disrepair. Land is in increasingly scarce supply, and rural employment opportunities are limited.

"Access to employment or other income generating opportunities and many basic social services remain extremely limited. As a result urban migration is high, and the infrastructure of the major cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are unable to support the population increase.

"There is an extremely high incidence of disability and weak support for integration into society of disabled children."

Caritas Vietnam will take on operations that see to the needs of disabled, orphaned, ethnic minority and poor children; women, especially those living in poverty and victims of violence and of human trafficking; drug users; and people with HIV/AIDS.

At the launch event in Xuan Loc, president of Caritas Asia, Bishop Yvon Ambrose, said, "We need to identify all those who are rejected and poor in our society and then see how we can build solidarity with them and to help them achieve a dignified and higher quality of life."