Caritas sends aid to Tonga after cyclone

Cyclone Gita

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is distributing aid to Tonga in the wake of Cyclone Gita.

Caritas is the Catholic Bishops’ agency for justice, peace and development.

It has appealed for donations so that it can increase its work on Tonga.

The agency says the category 4 storm carried winds of between 110 and 275 kph when it struck Tonga on Tuesday.

It caused widespread damage to the island nation.

Caritas says it works with organisations in Tonga and, as a result, its local representative is already gathering information on the ground.

Caritas uses money raised from Lenten appeals to pay for its aid work.

It has stock like tarpaulins for shelter and hygiene kits already in place in the Pacific.

Caritas is using its Tongan-based stock now.

“These are much needed supplies for when disaster strikes” Caritas Director, Julianne Hickey, says.

She says Caritas committees based in communities around Tonga are finding out what kind of help locals need.

Caritas has committed an initial $NZ10,000 to help the communities rebuild.

Immediate problems

It says access to potable water is an immediate concern.

Rural areas rely on bores or collected rain water.

Aid workers say it’s likely sea water has contaminated these sources.

Caritas says there was already an outbreak of dengue fever in Tongatapu.

This may spread through worsening sanitation conditions.

It is seeking donations to its Pacific Relief Fund to increase the aid it can give.

The donation page is on its website at www.caritas.org.nz/donate

Caritas director Hickey says her organisation has been able to respond to Pacific emergencies through an annual Lenten appeal.

She says the ability to respond is down to the generosity of the Catholic community.

“These are much needed supplies for when disaster strikes,” she says.

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Image credit:  Losaline Fe’ao Tafea Kalu

News category: New Zealand.