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Caritas accepting Myanmar Cyclone donations

MEDIA RELEASE - fOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CARITAS AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND

7 May 2008

Caritas accepting donations towards Cyclone nargis relief

Catholic humanitarian agency Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is accepting donations towards relief in Burma/Myanmar where cyclone Nargis has killed at least 22,500 people, with over 40,000 still missing.

Caritas director Mike Smith says they'll be working through the international Caritas network, with its huge experience in responding to large-scale emergencies such as the Asia tsunami and last year's cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh.

"Right now, Caritas network staff in Burma and Asia are assessing needs and establishing communication with people and organisations in places affected," said Mr Smith.

The global network of 162 Caritas members, involved in relief, development, and social service around the world, is mobilising to support the people of Burma/Myanmar in their need. Caritas Internationalis president Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has said "The message of our global network to them is that they are not alone. ..The Burmese should know that we are doing everything we can to ensure international aid efforts get through."

The Caritas network is receiving positive messages from the Myanmar government on their need for international help, and hopes this will translate to giving non-governmental organisations greater access to affected areas.

"Caritas is looking at the most effective ways to provide basic needs such as fresh water, medicines, food and shelter as soon as possible to prevent further and unnecessary deaths from disease and exposure," said Mr Smith.

Mr Smith said the worldwide desire to help in response to the cyclone should not diminish efforts to address other longer-term emergencies in the region. Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand supports the Thai-Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) in providing food and shelter to people displaced by difficulties within Burma.

"Though little-affected by the cyclone, our partner was already facing a severe emergency from soaring rice prices. They're still $6 million short of what they need to feed refugees this year, and may have to cut food rations by 50-75 percent. The impact of the cyclone on rice crops in the Ayeyawaddy Delta will further affect food supplies for the TBBC. In light of the food crisis, we've recently bumped up our contribution, but our partner has told us that the collapse of relief services there could have serious humanitarian consequences and undermine the stability of the fragile border."

Donations to Caritas can be made in the following ways:

* Phone 0800 22 10 22 to make credit card donations or

* Donate online using a credit card at www.caritas.org.nz or

* Post donations to: Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, PO Box 12-193, Thorndon, Wellington 6144, NEW ZEALAND.

ENDS

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