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Chile Earthquake: Update 23/24 March 2010

We have just received this update from Victor Beltrán, National Director of SOS Children's Villages Chile:

"The emergency team of SOS Children's Villages has finally arrived in Caleta Tumbes where an SOS Communal Centre has already been in operation in the past. This Village (one hour from Concepción) is located in the coastal area which was completely devastated by the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami. But although the land has been totally flooded, the inhabitants remained there in order look after their properties and wait for support which is urgently needed. The temperatures are decreasing and rains have started in the south of the country causing health problems for the population. Due to this fact, SOS Children's Villages has planned to send family tents for the most vulnerable families during the coming weekend.

In the meantime, the SOS team in Caleta Tumbes is providing support to 70 children in a day-care centre. Last week, the children received food and other supplies, whilst the adult care-givers at the different tent camps attended an SOS workshop on the topic of the prevention of sexual abuse. Additionally, the children and adults [also in neighbouring fisher communities called "caletas], especially the most affected ones, receive emotional support, and children participate at various recreational activities carried out by the co-workers of the SOS team. Registration and identification of the most vulnerable families is continued. While SOS Children's Villages is supporting 700 children in Concepción, the emergency team in Concepción has visited the former family strengthening programme in the municipality of Hualqui, located 24 km from Concepción. In Hualqui, the SOS team is now working in a similar way as in Tumbes: 200 children are receiving support; three psychologists from the public health service are joining the programme.

Chile earthquake

In the past days, several SOS team members were replaced, amongst them five psychologists who voluntarily worked in the emergency project. Seven local professionals have now joined the emergency programme; they are also focusing on preventive intervention related to mental health. On the other hand, the communities of the different affected areas of the country have started to observe an increase in the prevalence of multiple diseases and mental health disorders caused largely by stress and tension amongst the population. Due to this fact and because of the diligent and effective actions taken by SOS Children's Villages to tackle those problems, the Health Service of Concepción has made an important public acknowledgement that highlights our efficient work in the area.

 The SEREMI (Ministerial Regional Secretary of Chile) made an agreement with SOS Children's Villages to jointly implement a programme for the psychosocial support of the community, with the participation of psychologists and social workers of both the Health Service and SOS Children's Villages. Thanks to the great efforts of the Ambassador of Austria in Chile, Mr. Wolfgang Angerholzer, and his wife, Susanne Angerholzer, both sponsors of SOS Children's Villages, the Austrian government will donate an important shipment of tents for the people living in the quake-affected areas. In the coming months, this support will be vitally useful provided that, as declared by the government authorities, the initiation of the emergency housing constructions might be delayed.

Finally, the SOS emergency team is ready to welcome President Helmut Kutin on 2 April. The programme of his visit includes a tour to some of the earthquake's most affected areas in Chile, a meeting with the emergency team in situ, and visits to the two emergency SOS community centres operating in the sector.While the earthquake is turning into a sad memory for those not directly affected, it is not the same for those who lost everything in the disaster. Their needs and pains continue to be immense although the world seems to have lost any interest in their plight. The physical reconstruction of the country is said to practically equal the national budget, so nobody dares to think about tomorrow, while yet the present is uncertain."