Church steps up relief efforts for quake-victims

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MANILA, Oct. 25, 2013— The Catholic Church’s social action is intensifying efforts to provide relief to areas badly affected by the recent earthquake in Bohol province. 

Caritas Philippines launched its massive relief operations this week to at least five towns with “least served” affected residents with P14.2 million funds from Caritas Internationalis. 

Currently based in Rome, Caritas Internationalis is a global confederation of 165 Catholic organizations working in humanitarian emergencies and international development. 

The agency said it will provide temporary shelters, food and non-food items to at least 21,750 direct beneficiaries in the towns of Maribojoc, Inabanga, Carmen, Danao and Sagbayan. 

The Caritas Philippines, also known as the National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa), will lead the response and manage the overall coordination of the project. 

The social action centers of the dioceses of Tagbilaran and Talibon, however, will implement the interventions in municipalities under their jurisdictions. 

On field, the Nassa provides the technical assistance and its partner Caritas organizations: UK-based Catholic Agency for Overseas Development and the US-based Catholic Relief Services. 

Nassa said the goal is to ensure that the services “adhere to the internationally recognized minimum standards”. 

“The main priority at the moment, as families slowly cope from their trauma, is to provide temporary shelters while making ends meet,” Nassa said. 

“While aftershock was still being felt, the affected communities continue to deal with the challenges of having to rebuild their lives in the face of great loss both in lives and resources,” it said. 

Right after the 7.2-magnitude temblor last Oct. 15, Nassa immediately remitted P400, 000 to the affected dioceses through its Lenten fund-raising drive for emergency relief purposes called Alay Kapwa. 

At least 198 people were killed when the earthquake struck on some parts of Central Visayas, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. 

Authorities said more than three million people, from around 39 cities and municipalities, were affected by the earthquake. 

The NDRRMC reported that 5,992 families are housed in 51 refugee centers, and a first estimate of damage to infrastructure, hospitals, houses and heritage sites amount to P75.2 million. 

Families displaced by the earthquake and continuing aftershocks are cramped in evacuation centers with limited access to potable water and sanitation facilities.  

Many areas, particularly in Bohol, which is now under a state of calamity, still don’t have electricity and lack supply of potable water.   

“Food and shelter supplies are dwindling and many markets are still closed,” Nassa added. (CBCPNews)

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