Caritas Active in Tsunami-Relief Work

Uses Network of Group to Aid Devastated Areas in Asia

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ROME, JAN. 7, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Catholic Church is responding at the institutional level through the Caritas international network to bring relief to tsunami victims n Southeast Asia.



"Despite the difficulties of the emergency, the Church's network has been active from the first moment. Thanks to the local committees, it is able to distribute essential goods," explained Terry Dutto, of Caritas-Italy.

Dutto just arrived in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu to join the efforts of her Caritas fellow workers from India, Germany, Austria and the United States.

Dutto is heading toward to the south of India, specifically Kanyakumari and Cape Comorin, to visit all the villages and camps of the area, which are sheltering 25,000 people. At the same time, other members of the Caritas international team have gone to Pondicherry, on the Tamil Nadu coast, Caritas-Italy reported.

Caritas-India is providing food, clothes and medicines to 125,000 people, and has succeeded in contacting the Nicobare Islands to offer first aid.

Fathter Yvon Ambroise, coordinator of Caritas-Asia, continues his mission in the other countries stricken by the tsunami: Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand.

Dutto warned of two key problems: the lack of drinking water, and "the banning of fishing for health reasons, at present for a month, which aggravates the situation of fishermen and their families."

Because of logistical difficulties, Caritas' international network organized regional groups in Sri Lanka to support the local Caritas: in Colombo and Galle, Jaffna and Vanni, and Batticaloa and Trincomalee.

In Indonesia, the Caritas network is working closely with the Medan Archdiocese. Several operative teams are already distributing aid.

Local Caritas organizations have requested that foreign aid for now be restricted to money, as there are bureaucratic complications at the customs for clothes, food and other items. Moreover, local purchase of these goods is much cheaper, said the director of Caritas-Sri Lanka.

Today, Caritas' international network told ZENIT that more than $42.5 million has been collected to help the victims of the tidal wave.