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Sunday, October 23, 2016
Catholic agencies rush aid to earthquake zone
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¬†Following the devastating earthquake which shook South Asia on Saturday, Catholic aid agencies north and south of the border have committed over £300,000 for immediate emergency relief. Scottish aid agency, SCIAF, has committed £100,000 through Caritas Internationalis. CAFOD, has pledged £100,000 to Caritas Pakistan and a further £100,000 to Islamic Relief. As rescuers continue to search for survivors among the rubble, Caritas is reporting as many as 40,000 deaths in Pakistan and Pakistan controlled Kashmir. The funds will help Caritas Pakistan set up urgently required medical camps in the worst affected areas. Initially, they are aiming to help at least 10,000 families affected by the earthquake. CAFOD has also pledged £100,000 to Islamic Relief, an agency with which it has often worked closely in the past, including in Indonesia following last year's Tsunami and Iran after the Bam earthquake in 2003. Islamic Relief is currently leading teams of international aid workers into the affected areas to assess the needs of survivors. The agency is distributing urgently required food, medicine, blankets, tents and water containers to affected areas in Pakistan. Relief agencies in the earthquake-affected areas are already finding it difficult to reach many of the affected areas but Caritas Pakistan fears that accessibility may become even more difficult as winter sets in. Heavy snow is expected in the next 3 or 4 weeks, when many towns and villages in the region will be completely cut off. The worst affected areas are in central and northern Kashmir, but high death rates are also expected in neighbouring India, particularly along the border with Pakistan. Initial reports suggest that at least 600 have died in India. Towns and villages in Afghanistan were also affected by Saturday's 7.6-magnitude earthquake, the strongest to hit the region for over a century. Buildings have been destroyed, entire villages wiped out and landslides triggered. Thousands have been left homeless and in desperate need of shelter and medical care. One young mother explained how her house had collapsed as she breastfed her baby. She was left paralysed and her child died. Her husband was in a distant town and they have been unable to reach him to tell him of this tragedy. Paul Chitnis, SCIAF Chief Executive said: "This family is amongst the 10,000 families that will benefit from the work of our sister agency, Caritas Pakistan. Their staff are working tirelessly to respond to communities' physical and psychological needs. They have already made initial visits to remote villages which were devastated by the earthquake and where families had spent 72 hours in the biting cold with no shelter or food. "SCIAF funds will provide health care, food and nourishment, basic utensils, blankets and clothing. In the next few days, emergency camps will be established to meet the basic needs of the people." The earthquake in South Asia measured 7.5 in the Richter scale and is believed to be one of the most powerful to hit the region in the past 100 years. The Pakistani Government estimates there are over 40,000 injured but fear the figure could rise. To make a donation to CAFOD, see: To give to SCIAF visit
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