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Cardinal travels to Sri Lanka for tsunami anniversary

posted on 28 November 2005
The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-OíConnor, will be travelling to Sri Lanka on Christmas Day to mark the anniversary of the tsunami and to inspect relief and reconstruction projects there.

He will be accompanied by Chris Bain, the director of the Catholic aid agency CAFOD, which has pledged £4.8m to partners in Sri Lanka.

More than 6,500 temporary homes have been completed by CAFOD's partner, Caritas Sri Lanka, throughout the country, with over 4,000 temporary houses in Batticaloa. In addition, CAFODís partners hope to have completed 400 permanent houses by the anniversary.

The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami killed more than 200,000 people in countries as far apart as Indonesia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Somalia. In Sri Lanka, over 30,000 people died in the tsunami and tens of thousands were made homeless.

The Cardinalís visit will begin in the capital Colombo, where on Boxing Day he will join its Catholic archbishop, Oswald Thomas Colman Gomis, in handing over keys to new houses. He will then move on to Batticaloa, on the east coast - the focus of CAFODís relief work, and other sites affected by the disaster. He returns to Britain on 6 January.

Cardinal Murphy-OíConnor said he wanted to thank the Catholic people of England and Wales whose generosity in donating to CAFODís tsunami campaign meant that the aid agency has this year managed its largest budget ever.

'The tsunami caused suffering across pacific Asia, and inspired an unprecedented level of compassion and generosity around the world,Ē the Cardinal said. ďI'm travelling to Sri Lanka to see how reconstruction efforts have progressed, to join with the Church and people of Sri Lanka in marking the anniversary, and to hear the stories of those affected.Ē

The Cardinal will also learn about the peace process in Sri Lanka, amidst concerns that the recent elections have led to increased tensions across the island, as well as the dialogue between the Catholic Church and the majority Singhalese Buddhist community.

The Director of CAFOD, Chris Bain, said: 'I am delighted to be able to show Cardinal Murphy-OíConnor the good progress which CAFOD and its partners have made in the year since the tsunami struck. Houses are being built across the region and people are back at work and making a living for their families.'

As well as Mr Bain, the Cardinal will also be accompanied by his private secretary, Fr Mark OíToole, and his Director for Public Affairs, Dr Austen Ivereigh.

Notes:
To arrange interviews with the Cardinal and for further information please contact Austen Ivereigh on 020 7798 9045 or mobile 07905 224860. The Cardinalís website is www.rcdow.org.uk.

To arrange interviews with Chris Bain and to learn more about CAFOD, please contact Patrick Nicholson at CAFOD on 020 7326 5559 or 07979781015. Details about CAFODís reconstruction work in Sri Lanka are on its website, www.cafod.org.uk.

Contact Details:
Austen Ivereigh
Director for Public Affairs
Telephone: 020 7798 9045 or 07905 224860
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posted on 28 November 2005

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