Questions and answers with Caritas Internationalis President Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, speaking from the Honduran capital.
What is the situation in Haiti? What is the situation with the Church?
Our Caritas colleagues on the ground say many thousands of people may have died and over three million are in desperate need. Aid is beginning to get through, but still people have been left without shelter, food, clean water, and are of course in deep shock.
Most main churches have been destroyed, including the cathedral. Seminaries, church houses and schools have been badly damaged. Sadly the Archbishop Monsignor Joseph Serge Miot was killed in the earthquake. We express deep sadness to his family and all our brothers and sisters in the church in Haiti, as well as the people there.
The Church is working with Caritas to establish distribution points in Port-au-Prince and other towns to provide help. It will be a big challenge but our hopes are raised by the messages of solidarity and the influx of support we are receiving from Caritas members and their supporters around the world.
What is Caritas doing?
Caritas has already started to deliver tents, blankets and first aid. We will be providing food and other aid items, as well as using the 200 Caritas clinics and hospitals to provide healthcare. An international team has arrived in Port-au-Prince and is coordinating our overall response. Caritas USA/CRS is trucking food overland from the Dominican Republic.
Which Caritas members are present in Haiti?
France, USA, Switzerland had staff present before the earthquake. The international team includes Austria, Germany, Mexico, France, and Holland. We understand a team from Caritas Czech Republic and South Africa is also on its way.
What are the urgent needs?
Food, clean water, healthcare, and shelter. Electricity is down and gas is in short supply. We need a huge reconstruction effort.
What can we do for the reconstruction of Haiti?
One of the poorest nations in our world will be the focus of media attention and the outpouring of humanitarian assistance as a result of this natural disaster. May this bring with it lasting solutions and commitment to alleviate the misery of Haitians and the infrastructural poverty of this beleaguered nation.