Caritas to Study Long-term Tsunami Relief

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 6, 2005 ( Caritas representatives from the areas worst hit by December’s tsunami in Asia will meet this month to focus on the long-term efforts at rebuilding houses and communities.

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Officials involved in implementing multimillion-dollar programs in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand will meet Sept. 20-21 with donor agencies at the Caritas Internationalis headquarters in Vatican City.

They will discuss ways to implement most effectively the construction of earthquake-resistant houses and community infrastructure, job creation and social assistance.

«We were there before the tsunami struck, all during the initial emergency phase, and we are there for the long term,» said Liz Stone, a coordinator for Caritas’ tsunami-response programs. «We are rebuilding entire communities, which takes time.»

Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of Catholic relief, development, and social service organizations, has raised $450 million from donors as a key part of the Church’s commitment to support the people of the affected areas.

In the first six months following the Dec. 26 tsunami, Caritas helped meet urgent food, shelter and health care needs.

Now the focus has shifted to building permanent dwellings and helping people find new means of livelihood. For example, Caritas has committed to building 26,000 of the 90,000 houses in Sri Lanka.

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