On 16 April, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck northern Ecuador. It left more than 700 people dead, over 16,500 injured, and many missing. An estimated 20,000 people lost their homes. The government declared a state of emergency for the entire country and began developing a national plan to respond to the crisis.
In the days following the earthquake, hundreds of aftershocks were recorded. Coastal cities faced water and electricity shortages, roads and other infrastructure were damaged, and some areas were cut off from humanitarian aid and communication.
No Jesuit or lay personnel were killed in the earthquake, but the Ecuadorian Jesuit Province suffered serious infrastructure damage to schools, a church, a retreat house, and the Foundation Centre for Social Promotion Río Manta, which delivers health and social programs for vulnerable groups in the city of Manta.
Within 48 hours of the earthquake, the Jesuits in Ecuador had conducted an initial assessment. They have since been providing emergency aid. The Provincial of the Ecuadorian Jesuit Province, Fr Gilberto Freire, announced a plan to provide housing and relief for families in the affected coastal areas.
Canadian Jesuits International (CJI) is in communication with Jesuitas Ecuador and Fundación Río Manta, whom it has been supporting for a number of years. CJI is coordinating its response to the Ecuador earthquake with an international network of Jesuit agencies from Canada, Australia and Europe. This network is working with Fe y Alegría Ecuador, Jesuit Refugee Service Ecuador, Fundación Río Manta, Viviendas Hogar de Cristo, and Corporación Soljusticia to deliver assistance.
The Jesuits in Ecuador have identified the following priorities:
- Emergency aid: Collecting water, food, medicine and other non-food items at different supply centres in Quito, Guayaquil, Riobamba, Cuenca and Portoviejo
- Education: Normalizing education in schools and repairing and reconstructing education infrastructure
- Shelter: Rebuilding houses
Fr. Freire said, “Signs of solidarity from our communities and works, organizations, institutions and individuals have been very significant. Thank you to all! We will keep supporting and praying for the victims of this tragedy.”
CJI has launched an appeal in Canada to raise funds to support the reconstruction efforts of these organisations in Ecuador. Your contributions will make a big difference! For more information or to donate, please visit www.canadianjesuitsinternational.ca or call 1-800-448-2148.