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CRS Ready to Respond to Devastation in Japan

Catholic Relief Services is working with Caritas International and others to find pathways to bring aid to the many thousands stricken by the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northern Japan.

"The people of Japan who have suffered this tragedy are our brothers and sisters," Sean Callahan, vice president of overseas operations says. "Though it is too early to know the exact details of how we will help, we know that it is our mission to aid them in this time of need. As our mission is to serve the world's most poor and vulnerable people, CRS does not normally have a program in Japan. But, just as we did after the Kobe Earthquake in 1995, we will find appropriate partners for the expression of generosity by Catholics in the United States and others of goodwill."

"CRS has determined there was minimal damage from the tsunami in countries where we have programs - such as the Philippines and Indonesia," says Callahan. "Our focus now is on the people of Japan."

Caritas Japan has indicated that for now it will not be involved in immediate relief work—a huge operation run by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces—but will focus on long-term recovery. In a statement, Caritas Japan says that the damage is not only physical but also psychological. "We will accompany people who lost their beloved, who lost everything and may stay at temporary shelter, and who have no one to rely on," the statement says.

The president of Caritas Japan, Bishop Isao Kikuchi SVD says, "We have received so many e-mails from all continents filled with words of compassion and prayer. We are very grateful for this solidarity. We believe that aid activity is needed, but prayer is also important in such a situation."

Photo by REUTERS/KYODO, courtesy www.alertnet.org
Photo by REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon, courtesy www.alertnet.org
Photo by Reuters/Aly Song, courtesy www.alertnet.org
Photo by Reuters/YOMIURI, courtesy www.alertnet.org

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