01/14/2010, 00.00
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Catholic Church and international community to Haiti’s rescue

Catholics around the world have responded to the appeal made yesterday by Pope Benedict XVI to raise money. World Bank allocates US$ 100 million in aid. World Food Programme is seeking 15,000 tonnes in food for the Caribbean nation. Tokyo is sending a team of experts. Lebanon, China, Taiwan and South Korea are offering money and sending basic supplies.
Rome (AsiaNews) – Following yesterday’s address by Pope Benedict XVI, who appealed “to the generosity of all people”, and with the support of the Catholic Church for the people of Haiti hit by the earthquake, the international community is rushing to bring aid to the island nation. Caritas internationalis opened a page on its website for donations. Associations and NGOs are sending basic supplies. Governments, the World Bank and the World Food Programme have allocated the first sums of money.

In Haiti, Caritas internationalis has already set up tents and handed out blankets to the displaced. Caritas Haiti president, Mgr Pierre-André Dumas, made an appeal for “calm and solidarity”. The prelate said that people need blankets, clothes, drinking water, food, medicines, as well as psychological support and batteries.

Card Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, president of Caritas internationalis, responded to the appeal made by the Pope during yesterday’s general audience, reiterating his organisation’s “total solidarity with the people of Haiti”. On its website, Caritas has also opened a page where people can make a donation in favour of the victims of the Earthquake in Haiti.  

Around the world, Catholics are responding to the challenge in other ways. Sister Marcella Catozza, a Franciscan nun from Busto Arsizio (Italy) who runs a mission in Haiti, set up a fund-raising page on the website of the Associazione Kay La, in order to help missionaries operating in Haiti.

The World Bank has pledged US$ 100 million to the Haitian government. The World Food Programme is collecting 15,000 tonnes of food to send to a population that was already underfed before the tragedy struck. The International Committee of the Red Cross has launched an appeal for US$ 10 million in donations.

South Korea is providing basic supplies worth a million dollar. Japan has pledged US$ 5 million, in addition to a team of quake experts. On average, the Japanese archipelago experiences about 20 per cent of the most powerful earthquakes in the world. In two weeks, its experts will be in Haiti to work on reconstruction.

Expressions of solidarity and promises of assistance have also come from Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who said that Beirut would contribute to the international aid effort.

China has sent an emergency team with 10 tonnes of supplies. The Chinese Red Cross is providing a million dollar towards the emergency. China’s official news agency Xinhua reported that the “Chinese leadership expressed sympathy with and deep condolence to the Haitian people for their loss”. It added that the Chinese people “prayed and expressed their condolence to the Haitian people.”

Taiwan, which was also hit by a violent quake recently, is sending a 23-member team with dogs trained to find survivors in rubbles. Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has ordered immediate aid for the Caribbean nation, one of the few countries in the world that still has diplomatic relations with Taipei.

Yesterday, the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry announced that US$ 200,000 have been donated to the Haitian government. (DS)

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