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Ambassador Leslie J. Baja gives a copy of the book "Highlights of Relations between the Philippines and Switzerland" to Dr. Albert Schnyder of Caritas Switzerland

CARITAS Switzerland celebrates 40th year of work in the Philippines

Caritas Switzerland is coming up with its Country Program for the Philippines for 2012-2018 in time for its celebration of the organization’s 40th year of active engagement in the Philippines.

In the recent past, Caritas’ work in Legazpi has enabled local communities to improve their lives and provide a safer and more stable environment for women and children in the Visayas, where human trafficking and gender-based violence incidence were rampant.

To help prevent trafficking of women and children who are used in child labor, Caritas established a community-based childwatch network in Legazpi to engage the locals in helping fight human rights’ violations and human trafficking incidence. The network’s success could be gleaned from the 15 percent decrease in human-trafficking cases in the province. Caritas also partners with non-government organizations in the Philippines such as the Visayan Forum, PREDA, and the Good Shepherd Home to provide support to around 4,500 victims of gender-based violence. .

Caritas’ work in human rights is complemented by microcredit program to enable human rights’ victims and even local communities establish a new life and become self-sufficient. The organization’s microcredit project in Legazpi has enabled 1,500 families to put up their own micro enterprises, success rate of which is around 90 percent.

Caritas has also been active in emergency relief and rehabilitation efforts in the Philippines. When the country was struck by typhoons Ketsana and Parma in 2009, Caritas infused around CHF 1.2 million for its rehabilitation and relief efforts for the typhoon victims. Their work helped more than 22,000 families in Luzon and the Visayas.

In a meeting on 16 April 2012 with officials of Caritas, Ambassador Leslie Baja was informed by Dr. Albert Schnyder, Caritas’ Head of International Cooperation and Member of the Executive Board, that the organization plans to disengage from the Philippines in the area of human rights and focus its resources more on disaster risk reduction.

Ambassador Baja welcomed the thrust of the organization. He said that the administration of President Aquino has noticeably improved the Philippines’ record on human rights and has achieved considerable success in stemming human rights’ violations incidence in the country. He added that the Aquino administration has been actively working to achieve its twin goals of poverty alleviation and employment generation in line with the Philippines’ target for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

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