by Martin de Jong, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand Against a backdrop of severe drought across the central Pacific, Caritas Oceania representatives from eight different nations gathered in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand earlier this month for their annual forum. About 25 people attended the week-long event, including representatives from Caritas Internationalis, and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) – Asia. Many of the states represented, such as Tonga and Kiribati, are among the most vulnerable to climate change due to their low-lying nature or vulnerable shorelines. A closing statement from the forum said its members stand ‘in solidarity with the poor and marginalized of the region. We are particularly concerned by the impact of climate change in our area.’
A magnitude 6.3 earthquake, depth 5km, occurred 10 km south-east of Christchurch last night in New Zealand. Current reports are that large parts of the city have been damaged and there are a number of casualties. A state of emergency has been declared in the city. Caritas New Zealand said this morning, “We are attempting to obtain as accurate a picture as possible in terms of damage to property and lives, which we believe is considerably more than as a result of the last quake in Sep 2010." Caritas New Zealand does not usually respond to domestic emergencies, but works alongside Catholic Social Services and St. Vincent de Paul to channel funding for their work of trauma counselling and relief supplies respectively. Caritas is as yet unable to say what response will be. Meanwhile Caritas requests your prayers and solidarity for the victims of this event.