Solidarity from near and far for Italy earthquake victims
17 April 2009
Caritas is mustering 1400 volunteers from around Italy to give support to the survivors of the massive earthquake which hit L’Aquila over two weeks ago.
Groups from regional Italian Caritas will be “twinned” with eight quake-affected communities in and around the medieval town. The collaboration aims to provide long-term practical and psychological support to communities trying to rebuild their homes and lives.
Meanwhile, Caritas member organisations from around the world have offered their solidarity to the earthquake victims.
“We’d like to thank the dozens of Caritas members who have offered their support,” says Don Vittorio Nozza, director of Caritas Italiana. “We would certainly appreciate their help during the second phase of reconstruction when we will need to rebuild schools and communities.”
The 6.3 magnitude earthquake which struck central Italy in the early hours of the morning on 6th April has claimed 295 lives and made tens of thousands of people leave their homes.
Caritas Italiana has been coordinating the distribution of food, medicines, hygiene items, clothes, tents and sleeping bags from one of the few churches to remain intact. The local Caritas offices were destroyed in the earthquake
Assessments of people’s needs are ongoing. Besides material support, Caritas has also provided counselling and the opportunity for people to talk over the trauma caused by the earthquake and its numerous aftershocks.
Up to one third of L’Aquila’s houses are thought to be uninhabitable because of damage inflicted by the disaster. Many people are being housed in tents in camps around the city or in tents in their own gardens. Others are in hotels on the nearby coast.
Caritas has also been providing these people who are far from their homes with their daily necessities.
Once Caritas has completed assessments and the relief situation has stabilised, it will look at helping communities rebuild schools and community centres. It will also focus on providing social housing for vulnerable groups such as the elderly and people with economic difficulties.
Between 10 and 12 percent of funds raised will be used for micro-credit projects to help people regain independence in their lives in the post-emergency phase.
Caritas Italiana is considering the possibility of national Caritas members who have offered their solidarity to “twin” with communities recovering from the earthquake once the immediate emergency is over.