Long-term Rebuilding Planned in Indonesia

Caritas Active in Wake of May 27 Quake

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 20, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Caritas Internationalis continues to aid the victims of the May 27 earthquake that struck the Indonesian island of Java.

The Vatican-based organization is also looking ahead to the reconstruction phase, and has launched an appeal for nearly $15.5 million to fund its humanitarian work through December 2008.

According to the most recent report from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 5,700 people died in the disaster, and more than 150,000 houses were destroyed. Another 400,000 houses were left damaged.

The Caritas program will benefit nearly 130,000 people, particularly those in remote rural areas. The confederation is planning the long-term reconstruction of social infrastructure, including schools and damaged medical centers, through their program in Central Java, in particular in the Bantul, Sleman, Klaten and Guning Kidul districts.

Local Caritas volunteers say the victims have been traumatized.

In Brankal, near Cawas in the Klaten district, "the damage is huge with almost all houses ruined," said Father Bagus Dwiko. "The people gathered in the mosque area, where there is shelter, are just stunned."

Teams of local Caritas volunteers are also involved in cleanup activities to recover usable materials for rebuilding, including roof tiles and wood.

Many affected people are still afraid and will not re-enter the damaged houses with the volunteers for fear of the ongoing quakes and aftershocks that have been felt over the past two weeks.

Multifaceted help

After the initial emergency phase of relief assistance, planned for two months, Caritas will be negotiating with the district and provincial government on engineering surveys for reconstruction work.

Caritas Switzerland will provide expertise in building earthquake-resistant housing, schools and other facilities, while Catholic Relief Services, Caritas' member from the United States, will also bring its experience in emergency distribution, shelter provision and rebuilding after the tsunami in Indonesia's Aceh province.

Caritas member Cordaid of the Netherlands will focus on medical and health services, as well as the reconstruction of five damaged hospitals.

Caritas Germany will be largely responsible for setting up the trauma counseling and psychosocial services, by organizing trained teams available through local universities.

The Indonesian government is providing aid to the victims, but it has voiced hopes that the aid pledges that came in from various countries around the world will be honored.

The government has estimated damages at $3.1 billion. The World Bank puts the figure at more than $4 billion.