Monday, March 28, 2005

CRS/Indonesia Earthquake Update

MEDAN, Indonesia, March 28, 2005 – Catholic Relief Services (CRS) staff, including the agency’s president and two members of the board of directors, are beginning assessments of damage that has been cause by the most recent earthquakes that struck off the coast of Indonesia earlier today.

CRS President Ken Hackett as well as Bishop Robert Lynch, president of the board of directors and bishop of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Dr. Carolyn Woo, Dean of the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, have been in Indonesia since March 24 to assess the agency’s response to the December tsunami and reconstruction efforts. They were in Medan when the earthquake hit earlier today.

All 150 staff in Aceh Province have been accounted for after personnel evacuated CRS offices, staff housing and hotels in the three areas where the agency has been operating since the tsunami struck in December: Banda Aceh, Meulaboh and Medan.

Electricity has been cut and the extent of damage is still uncertain. There have been reports of deaths on the Island of Nias, where CRS is working with partners, but fuller assessments both on the island as well as through Aceh Province will begin in the next few hours with daylight.

The recent quakes have taken an emotional toll on those who survived the catastrophic tsunami in December. Even in Sri Lanka, where the quake did not register, people in the coastal areas evacuated to camps CRS had initially set up in the aftermath of the tsunami.

CRS so far has received more than $126 million in donations, allowing the agency to expand original program plans to $150 million. The agency’s response to the Dec. 26 tsunami is concentrated in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. CRS continues to be a leading agency in both the emergency and recovery phases of the tsunami response.

Working closely with governments, international agencies and other private voluntary organizations, CRS is providing a range of short- and long-term programs to improve the lives of people affected by the tsunami. Key activities include providing short-term and long-term shelter; revitalizing market structures; strengthening the operations of local humanitarian organization partners; repairing and rebuilding infrastructure such as bridges, schools and community buildings; trauma recovery; reestablishing occupations and livelihoods; and building programs to protect vulnerable children and women from all forms of exploitation. For more information on recovery efforts, go to


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