Salvadoran Government Criticized for Slow Relief Efforts

Meanwhile, Church and Caritas Mobilize at Parish Level

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SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador, JAN. 25, 2001 (
The government´s handling of relief aid for this nation´s earthquake victims has come under sharp criticism from a bishop and an aid agency.

The National Solidarity Committee, established by the government to help oversee relief efforts, is not working, according to Caritas-Spain volunteers in El Salvador.

Despite the panel´s promises, as late as Wednesday the Church had not received any government aid for distribution, the volunteers said.

Auxiliary Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chávez of San Salvador, vice president of the solidarity committee, also complained about discrimination in the allocation of aid. This provoked the government to request his replacement as the Church´s representative on the panel.

The Salvadoran government, meanwhile, censured TV Channel 12 for its critical reports on the government and its response to the emergency.

Caritas-El Salvador, which is following a policy of «empty warehouses,» is asking the government to do the same, in order that aid is distributed as soon as possible. Government warehouses, however, have many containers that are yet to be distributed, the group said.

After the earthquake struck El Salvador on Jan. 13, the local Caritas organization mobilized. Caritas implemented an Emergency Operative Plan, in each of the eight dioceses and 350 parishes of the country. Each parish is divided into sectors, with a team responsible for collecting and distributing aid.

These teams make a census of those affected and their needs, which is then sent to the diocesan Caritas and, eventually, to Caritas-El Salvador, which is responsible for organizing the distribution of aid.

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