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Caritas helps distressed people of Nias

Caritas Australia it is reporting that its assessors in Nias have found "distressingly high levels of suffering" despite a relatively low death toll.

The organisation's shelter program coordinator, Dave Hodgkin, who spent the day in Nias on Wednesday, said that as the assessment team toured through outer-lying areas they were encouraged to find that the damage was not as bad as it could have been. Although buildings had been destroyed, there was not a high level of loss of life.

"But it was a very different story when we reached the capital (Gunungsitoli)," Mr Hodgkin said. "The city had been completely destroyed - pancake flattened. The amount of debris was enormous and the stench of dead bodies was very noticeable," he said.

There was no electricity which was severely hampering supply of clean water and communication.

Caritas Australia and its partners have already started taking medical supplies and nursing personnel into Nias, an initiative which will continue as long as it is needed.

The most urgent need beyond this is food distribution.

"We are working with our partners in Aceh to determine how best we can make a contribution to food distribution on Nias," Mr Jack de Groot, National Director of Caritas Australia said.

Mr de Groot said that because Caritas Australia has already been intensely involved in tsunami relief and shelter programs in Aceh, which is very close to Nias, the agency is well prepared to respond to the needs of the people of the island.

"We also have the additional advantage of having good networks on the island because Catholic parishes there are administered by the Archdiocese of Medan, which is located in Aceh. This means we do not have to waste time trying to work out what is needed and how to establish organisational networks, since these are already there," Mr de Groot said.

Caritas helps distressed people of Nias (Caritas Australia 31/3/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Caritas Australia | Eyewitness account of Sumatra earthquake (Caritas Australia/Jesuit Refugee Service Indonesia 29/3/05)
CAFOD - Sumatra Earthquake
Catholic Relief Services - Indonesian Earthquake Response

Caritas says good networks helping Nias response (CathNews 31/3/05)
Caritas responds to Indonesian Earthquake (CathNews 30/3/05)

Bad weather hinders rescue efforts in Nias (ABC Radio The World Today 31/3/05)
Churches manage to ship supplies to earthquake zone (Ekklesia 31/3/05)

32 Apr 2005