MANILA, May 27, 2016— An official of the Vatican’s top social justice body has called for a reshaping of humanitarian assistance by putting the welfare of human beings at its very core.
Talking over Vatican Radio, Caritas Internationalis President Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila said the foremost concrete step is to consider human beings “seriously.”
“You cannot go more concrete than that. We are dealing with human beings,” said Tagle during the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey on May 24.
More than statistics
He said it is “sad” if policy-makers address humanitarian crisis only in terms of statistics and theories.
“While that might be necessary, I think the first concrete way is to go back to the human beings. Hold the hand of a survivor of a calamity. Enter the shack of a refugee family. Listen to the stories,” explained the prelate.
The cardinal also reiterated his call for a new approach to top-down solutions, as traditional humanitarian aid has tended to do.
He said this way of working has been proven neither efficient nor effective because it has failed to give due respect to the communities which are being served.
According to him, international donors and agencies must respect more the principle of “subsidiarity” and ensure that resources are made available at the grassroot level.
“Sometimes you know they mean well but the local communities know their culture, their needs and their situations better so enabling the local communities to really get involved in rebuilding of their lives I think is important,” Tagle said.
Cardinal Tagle also said it is necessary to confront and address the causes of conflicts “that drive people away from their homes.”
“If it is a natural calamity then we should address the climatic changes… and the lifestyle that could help us cope with these changes, prevent disasters, etc.,” he said.
Tagle was among the religious leaders who took part in the summit where he also spoke to participants on the role of religion in humanitarian response. (CBCPNews)