Teams from Caritas have arrived in Haiti to support local staff in relief work for survivors of Tuesday’s massive earthquake. The situation is “very bad,” they report.
The United Nations estimates that about 45,000 to 50,000 people have died since the quake and 300,000 are homeless. Another 3.5 million Haitians are affected by the disaster, Caritas says.
Caritas Haiti reports a high level of destruction in the predominantly Catholic country. Churches have been particularly badly affected, with almost all main churches badly damaged, if not destroyed.
Fr. Antonio Sandoval, Caritas Latin America Regional Coordinator, arrived in the capital Port-au-Prince on Thursday with an eight-man relief team.
“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,” he reported.
Fr. Sandoval explained that Caritas is coordinating relief efforts with the bishops and the papal nuncio. They are also coordinating with the national Caritas and regional and international Caritas members, as well as with the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies.
In the neighboring Dominican Republic, Caritas USA and Catholic Relief Services staff and volunteers are preparing food boxes to feed 50,000 people. The first 500 boxes were scheduled to be delivered to Port-au-Prince on Friday.
More international staffers were to arrive Friday in Haiti to provide technical support on water, shelter and health care. The staff comes from Rome, Holland, the U.S., Germany, France, Switzerland and Austria.
Caritas has already provided tents, blankets and first aid to some of the most vulnerable families. It reports it has “a well established network of community workers” that will deliver further aid.
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, the Caritas President, commented from Honduras on the relief work. He called for special prayers for the people of Haiti on Sunday and also asked for support for the work of Church and aid agencies in Haiti.
Caritas lists suggested prayers on its website and is accepting donations for Haitian relief.
Its website is http://www.caritas.org.