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Aid Agencies Rush to Help After Peruvian Earthquake: CEN 8.31.07 p 6. September 3, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Disaster Relief, La Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America, Mission Societies/Religious Orders.
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hugo-chavez.jpgAid agencies from across the Anglican Communion have come to the assistance of the Diocese of Peru following the Aug 15 earthquake that struck off the coast near Pisco.

Canadian, American, British and Australian church aid agencies have responded to the devastation wrought by the 8.0 magnitude earthquake by sending aid to groups working in the afflicted regions. Several hundred have been reported killed by the quake, including 150 people killed by the collapse of the roof of a Roman Catholic Church in Pisco.

The Bishop of Peru, the Rt. Rev. William Godfrey reports the diocese has opened soup kitchens in the towns of Guadalupe and San Juan Bautista, each feeding 5000 people a day. “Food, water and medicine continue to be the priority as well as tending to the injured,” Bishop Godfrey wrote on his diocesan website.

The diocese was also supporting “the injured who have been brought from the South to Lima’s hospitals. Many of them were brought in on stretchers with no personal belongings. We are providing food, clothing, medicines, prayer and counsel, and when the time comes transport back to their families,” he wrote.

The Roman Catholic charity Caritas, the Presbyterian Church in the United States, the USPG, Episcopal Relief and Development, Anglican Relief and Development, the Primates Fund for World Relief and other church agencies have responded to the quake with financial support and relief assistance. “We are working in conjunction with other churches and aid agencies, adding whatever we can to what God gives us,” he said.

Bishop Godfrey reported the Peruvian Civil Defence force’s “professionalism and organisation has been remarkable” in the aftermath of the quake. However, relief efforts had been “complicated by disorder, robbery and looting. There is great nervousness about the presence of unidentified strangers and the transportation of goods is almost impossible without army escort. Darkness is giving cover to gangs who loot houses and rob families of the little they still have,” he said.

Political machinations by Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez in quake’s aftermath have also been reported. Peru’s Expreso newspaper published photographs of cans of tinned tuna distributed to quake victims that sported a label with photos of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and left wing Peruvian opposition leader Ollanta Humala.

According to a report printed in the Los Angeles Times, the labels stated, “The Peruvian government acts in an inefficient, slow and heartless manner, notwithstanding the pain of the victims, leaving them to the mercy of hunger, thirst and delinquency.”

Popular outrage over the tuna tins has prompted the Venezuelan ambassador to deny responsibility, saying it was a plot to discredit Chavez and Humala. However, Expreso reported the tins were distributed from trucks owned by Humala’s Nationalist Party.

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