Caritas Appeals for Aid for Haiti

Says Looting Is Complicating the Relief Efforts

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 18, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Caritas Internationalis has launched an appeal for more than $1 million to respond to Haiti's social and economic crisis.



"Food security was a dramatic issue in the chaotic environment leading up to and following the departure of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Feb. 29," said a statement issued by Caritas Internationalis from its headquarters in the Vatican.

"Roadblocks had prevented the transport of food and other goods, increasing the suffering of a people who already lack basic necessities," Caritas said. "Hundreds of thousands of Haitians remain without adequate medical treatment or food."

Looting made it difficult and dangerous for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and other humanitarian relief agencies to respond to the people's needs.

Caritas Internationalis' U.S. member, CRS, is helping local organizations to buy food and supplies for some of Haiti's most vulnerable citizens: orphans, the elderly, people living with HIV/AIDS, and the handicapped.

Caritas-supported organizations will allocate the aid to 17,879 people through immediate rations. Caritas has essential medicines and materials to treat 10,000 people for a three-month period.

The unstable situation in Port-au-Prince continues to prevent the safe delivery of humanitarian aid, leaving children hungry at orphanages and other Caritas feeding centers.

By working with local organizations through cash assistance to purchase food, Caritas said it can respond to the crisis immediately.

"This is a stopgap measure," said Jed Hoffman, CRS regional director for Latin America. "We continue to call on the government, the political opposition, the armed Haitian groups, and the international troops now in Port-au-Prince to restore civil order as soon as possible, so that we can get food and other supplies in our warehouses to reach those who are suffering."