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Catholic agencies help Java earthquake survivors

 Caritas Internationalis, the international network of Catholic aid agencies SCIAF and CAFOD are members, has committed $1.2million to help those affected by the Indonesian earthquake. In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake on Saturday, Caritas provided food, shelter and first aid. Caritas Internationalis Secretary General, Duncan MacLaren, (former SCIAF Director) said: "Local Churches and Church buildings are already housing affected people and we have staff from our Caritas in Indonesia as well as from Caritas members of Netherlands, Germany and USA in the area. The seven Catholic hospitals in the Province have opened their doors and we are preparing to help as much as we can." Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) is already working in the affected areas providing tents, food and blankets to some of the 200,000 people made homeless by the earthquake. JRS has been working in the area for several years and has an office in Yogyakarta. Many of those in the JRS emergency teams have also been affected by the quake, with staff houses damaged. JRS was able to respond to the disaster immediately because funds that had already been allocated to JRS in the event that Mount Merapi - Indonesia's most active volcano which stands just 18 miles north of Yogyakarta - erupted, were diverted to assist those affected by the earthquake. JRS has been working in partnership with CAFOD for many years and is a major partner in CAFOD's tsunami response work. CAFOD's Programme Officer for Indonesia, Sarah Belson, is in the region and will support the work of JRS. CAFOD's sister agencies Catholic Relief Services and Cordaid, have a presence on the ground in Java and are also responding to the situation. Pauline Taylor-McKeown, CAFOD's Tsunami Regional Manager, said: "JRS is responding to immediate need by providing food and blankets. They continue to assess the situation to ensure aid is targeted to those most in need." Paul Chitnis, SCIAF Chief Executive, said: "Many areas are without electricity and phone services. There is also a shortage of food. In the short term the focus will be on providing temporary shelters, hygiene kits, family kits, prayer kits, blankets and clothing. As the months progress, the emphasis will shift to providing permanent housing and rehabilitation programmes." To donate to SCIAF click on: www.sciaf.org.uk To donate to CAFOD's emergency response fund log on to www.cafod.org.uk