OCEANIA/SOLOMON ISLANDS - Caritas Australia and Solomon Islands providing aid to refugees following tsunami and earthquake of 2007

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Honiara (Agenzia Fides) - In situations of natural disasters, there is always a need for projects to aid in the rehabilitation of affected areas, a need to rebuild and to return to normal life, for victims and refugees. That is why the Caritas associations of Australia and Solomon Islands have decided to take action and help those facing the devastation left behind the cyclone that hit the small chain of islands in the Pacific in April 2007 (see Fides 2/4/2007 and 27/4/2007).
Caritas has launched a Special Operations Appeal to all the Caritas throughout the world and spreading the word among the general public, especially during the time of Lent. Aid has already arrived from the Caritas in Korea, United States, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and Holland, as well as from other numerous donors from around the world.
In particular, the leaders of the Solomon Islands National Disaster Management Office have decided to distribute various supplies in the affected areas, from among various non-governmental organizations, to avoid unnecessary complications. Caritas has been assigned to the Province of the Shortland Islands and the Province of Choiseul, two heavily Catholic areas, although as always, Caritas will work without distinction of beliefs or race among its beneficiaries.
Caritas’ intervention plan has various objectives in mind, especially the rebuilding and reopening of: destroyed and severely damaged houses; infrastructures such as schools, clinics, streets, high schools; wells and water pumps; public and professional buildings (for agriculture and fishing). In addition, they hope to provide a psychological aid, through post-trauma counseling for victims. There will be daily assistance, with basic necessities and humanitarian aid for the affected communities.
A great deal of the help, organizers say, comes from local volunteers, especially from the parishes in Nila and Molia, as well as personnel from the Archdiocese of Guizo. Among the daily difficulties are the logistics and cultural, political, and bureaucratic conflicts. However, the Caritas staff is optimistic: “There is a lot to do, but with everyone’s sincere effort and collaboration, we are sure that the program will be a success.” (PA) (Agenzia Fides 27/2/2008 righe 29, parole 343)