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Caritas Reaching Those In Need In Burma/Myanmar



13 May 2008

Caritas Reaching Those In Need In Burma/Myanmar

Catholic aid agency Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is working through Catholic Church partners on the ground in Burma/Myanmar to ensure aid gets to people who need it.

Director Mike Smith said the organisation is part of the international Caritas network of 162 members, responding to the cyclone aftermath in Burma/Myanmar and providing technical support to local Church partners.

Church networks are providing food and other aid items to 10,000 people in Yangon and Irrawaddy. That figure is expected to rise to 40,000 people receiving support by Wednesday. Relief items are being sourced within country, and medical staff are travelling to the worst affected areas to treat survivors.

Catholic Archbishop Charles Bo of Yangon said, "As a Church, we are reaching out to the victims with all the means at our disposal. At this hour of darkness, we are encouraged by the show of support by our friends from abroad. There are urgent needs for food, water and shelter. Thousands are in need of medical help."

Members of assessment teams have also reported back. One, speaking anonymously, said, "I was in Phyapon, far off down the Irrawaddy River. The bodies of human beings and cattle were still in the water.

"We reached a destroyed village. We were the first outsiders they had seen. To my eyes, that have seen the Asia tsunami and the Kashmir earthquake, it was overwhelming. Nature unleashed an orgy of death. Women explained how the waves took their babes. As our boat moved along, the body of a small boy drifted past.

"People have no drinking water or food or shelter. Children are eating coconut shells. Dead animals are everywhere. There is a terrible smell. There were many refugees, living in roofless churches and monasteries. Help has not reached them. We are doing what is possible. In the last two days, we have reached out to the starving people."

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand has received over NZ$30,000 in donations in just a few days for its appeal for Burma/Myanmar. It has granted US$50,000 (about NZ$64,000) towards immediate relief, and will grant more as the situation unfolds.

Donations to Caritas can be made in the following ways:

* Phone 0900 4 11 11 to make an automatic $20 donation or

* 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.


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