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Caritas Pledges $10,000 for Tsunami Survivors

Caritas Pledges $10,000 for Tsunami Survivors

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, the Catholic Agency for justice, peace and development has pledged $10,000 to assist communities stricken by the tsunamis that have hit coastal areas of southern Asia. The scale of the devastation, shown by the news media is enormous and has been described by the United Nations as the worst natural disaster of modern times.

Caritas partners in Sri Lanka and India, have been working on the ground assisting communities, providing food, water, shelter and medicine while local dioceses have opened up churches and schools to provide shelter to the thousands of people whose homes have been swept away.

One of the regions of particular concern to Caritas New Zealand is the Indonesian province of Acheh, which had restricted access to foreigners and journalists since marital law had been imposed in May 2003.

Caritas Director Mike Smith said, “It is important that in times of great disaster, conflicts and political issues be put aside and that the focus is on assisting those in need.”

The region, which suffered first from the massive 9.0 earthquake and then from the tsunami, has seen many thousands of people killed but with many areas still without contact, the death toll is expected to rise.

Caritas partners who have been working continuously in the Acheh province, are distributing family kits containing blankets, cooking utensils and other relief items to communities who have lost everything in the disaster.

Despite claims by the Indonesian government that they will lift access restrictions to the region, reports have emerged that there are delays in gaining access to assist communities in need.

Caritas has written to Foreign Affairs Minister, Phil Goff, asking him to ensure the New Zealand government encourage and monitor the implementation of the Indonesian government’s announcement that they will lift the restrictions on humanitarian and media access to Acheh. Caritas Director, Mike Smith said, “Caritas is appealing to Catholics and all concerned New Zealanders to support the Asian Tsunami Appeal.”

Donations to the Caritas Asia Tsunami Appeal can be sent to Caritas, PO Box 12 193, Wellington, For credit card donations please call 0800 22 10 22, or visit our website http://www.caritas.org.nz or to make a $20 phone donation via your telephone account call 0900 4 11 11.

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