Haiti: Caritas teams arrive in Haiti to help aid effort

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Caritas teams have arrived in Haiti to support local staff delivering aid to survivors of a massive earthquake.

About 45,000-50,000 people have died since Tuesday's 7.0 magnitude earthquake and 300,000 have been made homeless, the UN estimates, with 3.5 million affected.

Caritas Latin America Regional Coordinator Fr Antonio Sandoval arrived yesterday with an eight person relief team to the capital Port-au-Prince. Fr Antonio Sandoval said, "The situation is very bad and the people are in need of water, food, and medicine. People are still on the streets and in parks, where they must sleep. A great part of the city is without electricity."

"Caritas is coordinating with the bishops and the Nuncio on our relief efforts for the survivors of the earthquake. We're coordinating with the national Caritas and our international and regional members as well as working with the UN and other humanitarian agencies."

Caritas USA/Catholic Relief Services staff and volunteers are preparing food boxes to feed 50,000 people in the neighboring Dominican Republic. The first 500 are scheduled to be delivered to Port-au-Prince on Friday.

Further international staff arrive today in Haiti to provide technical support on water, shelter, and health. Staff from Rome, Holland, the USA, Germany, France, Switzerland and Austria are all in transit.

Caritas Haiti is reporting a high level of destruction. Churches have been particularly badly affected, with almost all main churches badly damaged if not destroyed. Haiti is a predominately Catholic country.

Caritas has already been able to provide tents, blankets and first aid to some of the most vulnerable families. Caritas has a well established network of community workers that will deliver further aid.

Caritas President Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, speaking from Honduras, called for special prayers for the people of Haiti this Sunday and to support the work of Church and aid agencies in Haiti. Suggested prayers are available on www.caritas.org

Caritas is accepting donations for Haiti

Haiti quake contacts

Caritas Communications Officers Michelle Hough (English, French, Italian) and Alexander Buhler (German, English) will be arriving in Port-au-Prince at 10 am local time.

Please use the Sat phone number 00881 621414863 until mobile connections are re-established.

For more information, please contact Patrick Nicholson at 0039 3343590700 or nicholson@caritas.va