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Caritas update on aid situation to Asia

Caritas Australia today (6/1/05) sent an aid team into the Indonesian city of Meulaboh to personally assess the devastation in the area in which much of the population was reported to have been killed by the tsunami.

Jamie Isbister, Programs Manager with Caritas Australia, flew into Meulaboh with a team from Jesuit Refugee Services to see first hand how Caritas, the Catholic agency for aid and development, can begin assisting the stricken community.

Caritas Australia National Director Jack de Groot said the agency would focus much of its Indonesian relief effort in Meulaboh.

“Nobody knows exactly how many people have been killed in Meulaboh, but there are reports that at least 10,000 lives have been lost and many thousands have been displaced,” Mr de Groot said.

“All roads to the area have been cut off and as a result it is almost completely isolated from the aid effort underway in surrounding areas of Indonesia.

“Caritas Australia will focus its Indonesian relief effort on this devastated community. Our team on the ground today have begun identifying what needs to be done, both immediately and for the long term rehabilitation of Meulaboh.”

Mr de Groot said the Caritas Australia Asia Earthquake Appeal continued to receive generous support from the Australian community.

The appeal has now reached $3 million, with more to come through appeals being held in Catholic parishes around the nation.

Funds raised have already begun being distributed to local networks in partnership with Caritas in the affected areas. So far $500,000 has been committed to Sri Lanka, $350,000 to India and $150,000 to Indonesia.

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