06/12/2018, 18.15
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Nuncio calls on Caritas Nepal to speed up post-quake reconstruction

by Christopher Sharma

Mgr Giambattista Diquattro visited areas devastated by the earthquake of 25 April 2015. In Nepal the monsoon rains are coming. The Jesuits have rebuilt 250 schools. Three years later, only half of the houses have been rebuilt.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Mgr Giambattista Diquattro, nuncio to India and Nepal, recently visited the Himalayan nation. During his stay, he called on Caritas to speed up its reconstruction work, as the country is still feeling the effects of a powerful earthquake in 2015.

During his meeting with members of the Catholic charity, the Vatican diplomat encouraged them to continue their work in favour of Nepalis who are still suffering from the tragedy of three years ago.

Ashish Shrestha, a member of Caritas, spoke to AsiaNews. "The nuncio,” he said, “has not only supervised the work of rehabilitation and reconstruction but has also encouraged us to continue our work, so that people can get relief and safe houses before the arrival of the monsoons."

Shrestha noted that Mgr Diquattro visited the areas affected by the earthquake and asked the Caritas offices to broaden the types of help it provides.

On 25 April 2015, a 7.9 magnitude quake devastated the country, killing about 9,000 people. More than a million buildings, including houses, schools, Hindu temples and prisons, were destroyed.

Nepali authorities have been repeatedly criticised for the slowness of reconstruction operations, despite the financial aid from abroad.

Private donors and foreign countries have pledged about US$ 4 billion, but the government has signed agreements worth only US$ 2.6 billion.

Caritas was first charity to provide assistance to victims. "Our support for needy people and communities continues according to their needs,” said Fr Boniface Tigga, former Jesuit superior.

“On their own, the Jesuits have helped rebuild more than 250 school buildings and we are now working on rebuilding other damaged infrastructure."

"We follow government guidelines but the procedure still long,” he lamented. “We also provide direct support to those who ask for it."

Bijaya Rana, a reconstruction official, reports that the previous government had announced the allocation of 500,000 Nepali rupees (US$ 4,600) for each destroyed housing unit, but that the current Communist government reduced the funding to 350,000 rupees (US$ 3,200).

"About 80 per cent of the victims received the first instalment, almost 50 per cent of the total. We asked the government to distribute the money quickly so that victims can complete the reconstruction as soon as possible."

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