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Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Thousands of tsunami survivors rehoused by CAFOD
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¬†Four months after the terrible power of the tsunami destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives, homes and livelihoods, CAFOD and its partners are working hard to build a new future for those affected. CAFOD, which raised over £9 million from its appeal to supporters and will receive an additional £14 million from the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal, is working in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India providing emergency relief supplies and working alongside local people to help rebuild their lives. CAFOD Director Chris Bain said: "Four months on, there is an immense amount of energy going into rebuilding the areas destroyed by the tsunami. The sheer scale of destruction has created many challenges for aid agencies such as getting hold of enough supplies and working with overwhelmed local authorities to make sure that plans run smoothly. "But CAFOD staff and partners are tackling the challenges with patience, commitment and steady progress. Our vision is to return those affected by the tsunami to a better standard of living than they had before, so we must work with care and consideration." Indonesia In the Aceh province of Indonesia, CAFOD partners have already rebuilt 200 permanent homes in the Meulaboh area. Around two-thirds of Meulaboh was destroyed by the tsunami and CAFOD partner CRS (Catholic Relief Services) has provided local people with the toolkits, materials and expertise necessary to rebuild their homes. By the end of the year CRS hopes to have built 3000 permanent homes. CAFOD has pledged £3million for CRS work in Aceh. CRS has been providing emergency supplies to families affected by the tsunami, distributing food to 60,000 people and household supplies to 20,000 people. Emergency supplies are now being targeted to the most vulnerable groups. CRS has also trained more than 300 health workers to ensure that disease does not take hold in vulnerable groups. On the island of Pulao Aceh CRS is working with the community to clear huge piles of debris from the destroyed coastline. Heavy moving equipment has been shipped over to help clear the site where islanders want to rebuild their homes. Since January CRS has been working with the islanders - who were evacuated to the mainland two days after the tsunami - to help them return home. It first helped to clear and bury thousands of bodies washed up on the beaches and has provided equipment to start reconstruction work. CRS plans to build 500 houses on the island to join the two community centres already built which are currently being used as warehouses for supplies. In Banda Aceh, the team has already reopened a health clinic that was badly damaged by the tsunami. When the CRS team started work on the Kesehatan Blang Pedang general and dental clinic, the building was full of debris and sadly several bodies were found amongst the wreckage. CRS paid a team of tsunami survivors from a local camp to help with the clearance. Five schools have also been cleared and reopened by CRS. Pat Johns, who is heading the Caritas/CRS team in Banda Aceh, says that around 300,000 people in Aceh are still living in camps. The Indonesian government has constructed 'barracks' style accommodation across the province to provide shelter whilst permanent homes are being rebuilt. "There is a lot of energy going into rebuilding Aceh. We have a lot of staff working alongside many contractors to help local people rebuild their homes. It is a big job building 3000 homes but we are making steady progress." CAFOD partner JRS (Jesuit Refugee Service), which has been working in Aceh since 2001, hopes to build 500 homes over the coming months. It has been heavily involved in the emergency response work providing health care, shelter, education materials, trauma counselling and emergency assistance. To date its response includes treating 2,500 patients in its health care programme and distributing over 20,000 sets of school materials. JRS is also providing support for many small local agencies working with community groups. Sri Lanka CAFOD is heading up the Caritas response in the Batticaloa region of Sri Lanka where it is focussing on providing temporary houses. So far 500 wooden houses have been built, providing thousands of people with a reasonable standard of shelter while they await permanent housing. A shortage of wood in the island has led to severe delays for the programme as CAFOD waited for imported timber to clear Sri Lankan customs. CAFOD had hoped to have around 3,500 temporary houses built by now. "Everyone is having difficulties with building supplies," says Alistair Dutton, CAFOD Humanitarian officer. "Last week we were only able to find enough wood in Sri Lanka to build 25 houses. But now that our timber order has cleared customs we will be able to step up the building work. "It is estimated that around 25,000 homes in Sri Lanka were destroyed by the tsunami. Before the tsunami only around 5000 houses a year were built in Sri Lanka so it is perhaps inevitable that there are big supply chain issues." In July the team will start building permanent homes of brick and concrete with tiled roofs. The team is waiting until then to start on permanent construction to give local and national authorities time to finalise where houses can be built. In addition to reconstruction work, CAFOD has distributed around 500 livelihood kits to carpenters, masons, plumbers and car mechanics, which are designed to replace lost tools and enable them to start work again. India CAFOD has pledged £3million to Caritas India for its tsunami programme, which has provided emergency supplies to around 35,000 families. In Kerala, Caritas India has just held an official ceremony to mark the completion fo the first permanent home. In neighbouring Tamil Nadu CAFOD partners are waiting for clearance from local authorities before building permanent homes.
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