As an expression of the Caritas Confederation's solidarity with the people of Angola, Caritas Internationalis (CI) is sending an Emergency Response Support Team (ERST) to help address the nation's post-war emergency situation and to support local member, Caritas Angola. Nearly thirty years of civil war have plunged Angola into one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and forced to live without adequate water supplies and health and sanitation facilities. Malnutrition rates have also soared as crops were destroyed during the fighting and basic necessities difficult to obtain. Although a cease-fire on 4 April 2002 has given rise to new hope for peace and the return home of many of the displaced, the situation remains critical. Those in need of emergency assistance could reach as high as three million. The rapid influx of demobilised soldiers and their families into camps has also put pressure on food supplies and raised the risk of health problems. The ERST, a crisis management team, will take up its short-term mandate in Angola to express the Confederation's solidarity with the people and the local Caritas in order to ensure a timely and effective Confederation response. Composed of professionals from Caritas of Angola, Germany, Mozambique, Spain, and the Czech Republic, the ERST will consult with Angola's local church representatives and Caritas Angola to assess needs and help draft an emergency assistance proposal for the Caritas Confederation. Attention will also be focused on preparing a framework for rehabilitation projects to be carried out in the future. The ERST will report to the network via the CI General Secretariat As Nik Bredholt of the CI General Secretariat and leader of the ERST said: "Caritas is very active in Angola and has served the most needy for years. Right now, faced with the deteriorating humanitarian situation, our mission is to strengthen our cooperation structures in order to respond with even greater effectiveness." The Caritas Confederation is one of the world's largest humanitarian networks. Its 154 relief, development, and social service organisations are present in 198 countries and territories.
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