Caritas Australia responds to the crisis in India

News and Press Release
Originally published
Caritas Australia emergency response team is in the state of Gujurat in Western India to assess the urgent needs of survivors displaced by the January 26, 2001 earthquake.
Figures reported indicate that up to 30,000 people may have been killed with a further 250,000 made homeless. By working in partnership our local Caritas network on the ground, Caritas Australia is providing urgently needed emergency relief supplies and assistance.

Caritas Australia has sent Anna Kiousis and Melville Fernandez, two of its field workers, to the area where the massive earthquake recently struck in Gujarat in northwest India.

From the scene of the tragedy Melville Fernandez says Caritas Australia is working in association with the 15 member team of Caritas Internationalis. The team is visiting the affected areas in the state of Gujarat and will remain there for a week to make an on the spot assessment.

Fernandez says: "We need to respond generously. The immediate need of the millions of traumatized victims is temporary shelter by way of family tents, medical aid, food, drinking water, blankets and other essential commodities for survival."

Caritas Australia has already sent $60 000 AUD as an initial response and has launched a special appeal throughout Australia. Donations to date have been well over $100 000. Donations will be channeled through our partner agency, Caritas India.

Local diocese have rallied to extend relief to the people in Bhuj, Ahmedabad and surrounding areas. They aim to reach all the stricken families with a focus on the most vulnerable and marginalised.

Emergency relief is already being provided by Caritas India and other Caritas agencies with India based operations. Camps are spontaneously establishing themselves near ruined towns and villages. These camps are being provided with plastic sheets, water cans, blankets, tents and mats. Food aid is also being distributed.

On being informed of the tragedy, Pope John Paul II immediately sent a message of his sincere condolences to the people of India through the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri who said: 'Having learned with great sadness of the tragic earthquake which struck northwest India, His Holiness Pope John Paul II has asked me to express to all concerned the assurance of his closeness in prayer. He commends the dead to the loving mercy of Almighty God and invokes Divine blessings of strength and consolation upon their families, the injured and all that have suffered loss. His Holiness likewise prays in a special way for the rescue-workers and all involved in providing assistance to the victims of this terrible disaster, encouraging them to persevere in their efforts to bring relief and support to the stricken population."

To make a donation please call Caritas Australia toll free on 1800 024 413 or via our website.

For further information please contact Kate Temby on 0417 284 831.

=A9 Copyright 2001 - Caritas Australia