12/09/2005, 00.00
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The tsunami one year later, solidarity beyond emotions

A few days from the anniversary of last year's South-East Asia tsunami tragedy, PIME and Caritas have organised a meeting in Milan to report on the ongoing projects in affected areas and reflect on how money raised was spent. The head of Italy's Civil Protection Agency and representatives of NGOs will address the conference.

Milan (AsiaNews) – What happened to the large sums of money sent from Italy to tsunami-hit countries? What strategies are in place in the affected areas? These are but a few of the questions to be raised at the meeting "The tsunami one year later, solidarity beyond emotions" organised by the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) and Catholic aid agency Caritas for December 12 in Milan.

Coming almost a year after the December 26, 2004, tragedy that devastated South-East Asia, the event will provide donors with information about how funds raised were used and bring them up to date as to the progress of the plans put in place in favour of the affected communities. It will also be a venue to discuss and reflect critically over what has happened in the last year. Representatives from the many groups—private institutions, government officials, NGOs—that played a role in helping tsunami victims and in reconstruction are expected to attend.

The panel includes Guido Bertolaso, departmental head for Italy's National Protection Agency; Sergio Marelli, president of the Italian NGOs Association; Paolo Beccegato, in charge of the International Section of Caritas Italia; Fr Roberto Davanzo, director of Milan-based Caritas Ambrosiana and Fr Davide Sciocco, PIME tsunami victims campaign co-ordinator. Gerolamo Fazzini, co-director of Mondo e Missione, will moderate.

In the early stages, Caritas Ambrosiana, in co-ordination with Caritas Italia and Caritas internationalis, backed projects in India. About 100,000 people found refuge in that country in 86 emergency camps. In Sri Lanka, 625 families were helped.

Working with its own local partners, PIME got its own projects off the ground right away in India (Tamil Nadu and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands) and Thailand.

Given the magnitude of the devastations and the multiple needs, the bulk of the projects went to India.

In Tamil Nadu, food, drugs and drinking water were distributed thanks to the efforts of PIME fathers and the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate.

Later, the focus shifted to promoting economic revival and community activities through the purchase of fishing boats, educational support, hospital aid and mobile health dispensaries.

The event will take place at 9 pm on December 12, at the Auditorium of the PIME Missionary Centre, via Mosè Bianchi 94, Milan.

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