Sri Lanka + 3 more

CCODP provides emergency aid for Sri Lanka, Turkey, Peru and the Philippines

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TORONTO / June 13, 2003 - The Canadian Catholic Organization for DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE announced today that it has sent $205,000 to fund four projects to aid victims of floods and landslides in Sri Lanka; earthquakes in Turkey and Peru; and to support peace initiatives and provide food in the Philippines.
Philippines: The $70,000 Philippines aid package will provide canned goods, medicine, temporary shelter and basic necessities for 11,000 displaced families in areas in Mindanao devastated by years of guerrilla warfare. About 5,000 families are living in evacuation centres and 6,000 have moved in with friends or relatives. Latrines, water pumps, clothing, blankets, mosquito netting, mats and other household items are all in short supply.

The families are the latest victims of a 25-year campaign by guerrillas to establish an independent Islamic state. Fighting between government troops and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has forced 140,000 to 200,000 people from their homes in recent months.

The CCODP projects are being administered by the 5,000-member DEMASKU farmers' coalition, which CCODP has been supporting since 1999, and by NASSA-JP (the National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace), a long-time DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE partner and one of the 150 member agencies of Caritas Internationalis, the world-wide Catholic emergency aid and development organization. DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE is the Canadian member.

The peace aspect of the project is designed to ease the growing tensions between the Christian, Islamic and indigenous populations in the area. A Tri-People Peace Camp Summit will be established to explore community-based conflict resolution processes and peace-building initiatives.

Some of the CCODP support has been set aside specifically to feed 500 Christian, Muslim and Lumad (indigenous peoples) farming families who fled fighting near Sultan Kudarat. The families are all members of DEMASKU. The coalition estimates that 3,700 of its members have been affected by the turmoil.

Sri Lanka: Torrential rains in the districts of Ratnapura, Galle and Matara took 200 lives and left 150,000 people homeless; another 500 are missing following. Raging floodwaters fed by the worst rains to hit the country in 56 years also destroyed power and communication lines, further hampering relief efforts.

DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE is providing $50,000 for food and supplies to help care for some of the tens of thousands of people who have taken refuge in temples, mosques and churches. The aid is part of a $230,000 international effort to provide food, milk, clothing and building supplies.

Before the flooding, about 700,000 people in the Ratnapura region were living below the poverty line. After the rains the town of Ratnapura was entirely submerged; water levels on the adjacent Kaluganga River were 15 feet higher than normal.

Turkey: DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE is aiding victims of the earthquake in Bingol - an impoverished city of 71,000 people in the country's south east - by providing $50,000 for a range of supplies and services that include sleeping bags, water, food packages and garbage disposal. The money is being distributed by Caritas Turkey.

More than 2,700 buildings were damaged or destroyed in the earthquake and 167 people killed, including 84 students at a boarding school. The money will aid 5,000 of the hardest-hit families. Each Caritas food package will feed a family of seven for one month.

Peru: DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE is providing $35,000 for the impoverished quake-prone area of Arequipa, high in the Andes Mountains. The region was hit by a killer earthquake in June 2001 that disabled entire villages. Unusually cold weather last year also added to people's suffering.

The CCODP money will help the mostly indigenous population increase its earning power and reduce the effects of future disasters by developing an economic development plan, reducing mortality rates of farm animals and improving farmers' health and nutrition. The aid will be used to fund education programs, provide training and launch micro-credit activities.

The program is being administered by a DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE partner called CINDES (Centro de investigacion para el desarroll campesino). CCODP worked with the group to provide disaster relief in the aftermath of the June 2001 earthquake.

For additional information:

TORONTO: Jack Panozzo (416) 922-1592 jack.panozzo@devp.org
MONTREAL: François Gloutnay (514) 257-8711 francois.gloutnay@devp.org