CAFOD pledges £100,000 to earthquake relief effort in Haiti

International aid agency CAFOD, a member of the Caritas Federation, has immediately pledged £100,000 to Caritas partners to assist with the relief effort following Tuesday's earthquake on the Caribbean Island of Haiti.

As rescue efforts search for survivors among the rubble following the earthquake, CAFOD's partners will be carrying out needs assessments. At present there are no accurate figures of the number of dead and those made homeless by the quake, but it is clear that with a population of around 9 million people with 3 million living in the devastated capital Port Au Prince, very substantial humanitarian assitance will be required.

The money pledged will help CAFOD partners supply water, food, medicines and shelter to the most vulnerable in the worst affected areas.

CAFOD's Head of Latin America and Caribbean, Clare Dixon said: "Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, its people are used to civil strife, hurricanes and floods, earthquakes are not a normal occurrence, and with the majority of the population living in abject poverty, this earthquake will greatly increase their suffering." 

The earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale, was the strongest to hit Haiti for 200 years and was follwed by two strong after shocks, toppling buildings including the ornate National Palace and the headquarters of the UN peacekeepers. 

Speaking at his weekly general audience, Pope Benedict XVI also appealed to the international community and individuals to be quick and generous in their aid.

"The Catholic Church will immediately activate (its aid) through its charity institutions in order to respond to the most urgent needs of the population," he said.

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