Australians have been congratulated for their rapid and generous response to the unfolding tragedy in earthquake-torn Haiti.
Caritas Australia chief executive officer Jack de Groot said the agency had received more than $400,000 up until Tuesday morning “which was an incredible show of solidarity and a great morale booster for our people on the ground”.
Caritas organisations from around the world had already sent 200,000 blankets, 15,000 tents, water cans and purification tablets, as well as food, water and hygiene kits, Mr de Groot said.
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Philip Wilson asked Australians to pray for the victims of the January 13 Haitian earthquake which has killed thousands including Port-au-Prince Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot.
Australian national director of international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need Phillip Collignon said Haiti’s overwhelmingly Catholic population meant that the Church had suffered enormous losses in the earthquake.
“Before the earthquake, there were 300 priests in the capital, administering to a population of three million people,” he said.
“Now, we still don’t know how many remain alive.”
Director of the Australian Salesian Missions office Brother Michael Lynch said three of the order’s clergy were confirmed dead and that as many as 500 students from the Salesians’ Port-au-Prince school were buried under rubble and feared dead.
As of last Monday, Haitian authorities estimated upwards of 200,000 dead and 1.5 million left homeless from the catastrophic 7.3 magnitude earthquake.
Mr de Groot said Caritas workers “were being overwhelmed with demand for basic necessities and medical treatment and our local partners are working around the clock to deliver relief”.
“Caritas aid is being delivered in Port-au-Prince, as more than 5000 people have already been assisted with aid including medical care, food, clean water and hygiene kits,” he said.
In the coming weeks the Caritas plans to assist a further 50,000 as the aid response swings into high gear.
Caritas had set up two mobile operating theatres with pre- and post-operative care and provided medicines and fuel. Six mobile clinics will soon be operational.
Mr de Groot said those wishing to support the Caritas Australia Haiti Emergency Relief Appeal can call 1800 024 413 or donate online at www.caritas.org.au.
Donations can also be sent to the appeal at GPO Box 9380 Brisbane Q4001.
Br Lynch advised that donations for Salesian Missions can be sent to Salesian Missions Office, PO Box 264, Ascot Vale, Vic 3032.
The Australian office of Aid to the Church in Need can be contacted on (02) 9679 1929 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Released by The Catholic Leader
January 24, 2010