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Marie-Josée Jacobs (Caritas) : fostering social inclusion

Marie-Josée Jacobs, president of Caritas Luxembourg underlines the increasing challenges facing NGOs’ activity and the need for social inclusion in the Grand-Duchy and around the world. Interview.

Can you present Caritas Luxembourg in brief?

Caritas Luxembourg works to promote social inclusion in Luxembourg and around the world. We focus on supporting the most vulnerable people in society: children and young people, single-parent families, the underprivileged, the homeless, people living in short-term housing or on low incomes, people who are struggling to manage, migrants and refugees. At an international level, we support victims of natural disasters and violent conflicts, helping them to rebuild and recover. We are also involved in development projects. With our network of local partners, we’re able to help people in a large number of countries: we even have our own offices in some countries. We’re one of the few NGOs on the ground in Syria too.

« An increasingly hopeful dynamic has gained momentum over the last few years among politicians, institutions and NGOs.»

What are the opportunities and challenges for development co-operation?

Conflicts are increasingly frequent and complex which means that there are significant challenges. We need to have an almost global presence for indefinite periods of time – rare are the conflicts that resolve themselves. On the contrary, they tend to drag on to such an extent that it becomes impossible to imagine them coming to an end. Millions of people are forced to leave their homes as they search for a peaceful place in which to live. At the same time, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for our employees to do their jobs. They’re often in danger and there’s much less respect for NGOs’ work nowadays. Today, NGOs are often instrumentalised. The list of countries which NGOs can no longer visit to provide help continues to grow. Nonetheless, I remain optimistic. An increasingly hopeful dynamic has gained momentum over the last few years among politicians, institutions and NGOs. This helps us to work in a co-ordinated and efficient way in the long term and encourages us to dare to try new concepts.

How do you see Caritas developing in the medium and long term?

National aid remains a priority for Caritas Luxembourg. Unfortunately, we can all see that inequalities are worsening and that the end of the month is a difficult time for many people here in Luxembourg. We want to help at every level, particularly when it comes to housing. We know that many people could enjoy a decent standard of living if they didn’t have to pay exorbitant rent. Of course, children and young people are another priority. We’re convinced that in order to stop the vicious cycle of poverty, it’s essential to create a safe environment in which they can flourish. Development co-operation is another of our priorities: we believe that if we want people to remain in their countries, we must work to help them to envisage a peaceful future for themselves and their families. 

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