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Albania: assessment of damages 7 days after the earthquake. Caritas and AVSI spearheading assistance efforts for the most vulnerable

One week after the earthquake of past November 26 that caused the death of 51 people, leaving 2000 wounded, Albania has started assessing the damages. The Government reported “serious damage” involving some 900 buildings in Durres and over 1,465 in the capital Tirana. There are 2,633 evacuees housed in hotels in Durres, Shengjin and Kavaja, while over 2,500 are staying with relatives. Tomorrow the European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, will be in Albania. Caritas, Misericordie di Italia and Avsi with their local partner "SHIS" are tirelessly providing critical aid

One week after the earthquake of past November 26 that caused the death of 51 people, leaving 2000 wounded, Albania has started assessing the damages. The Government reported “serious damage” to some 900 buildings in Durres and over 1,465 in the capital Tirana. Damages and collapse of buildings, yet to be assessed, were recorded in Thumane, Kruje, Lezhe, Scutari, Lac, Lushnje and Fier.

Yesterday the Council of Ministers held its fifth extraordinary meeting, approving the emergency aid plan to assist the families of 51 victims. Housing, special pensions for earthquake victims and full coverage of the costs of funeral services are some of the most significant measures outlined in the provision. Tomorrow, December 4, the European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, is expected in the country. He reiterated in a tweet: “The EU is ready to offer additional assistance.”

“In this very difficult moment Albania is not alone.”

According to preliminary nationwide assessments, 7,091 homes were damaged (131 of which were destroyed and 3,811 seriously damaged). The “provisional” data attest to the gravity of the earthquake, with further 1,300 tremors so far.

AVSI with traumatized children. “We felt the latest tremors last night”, Roberta Profka, psychologist and director of SHIS (International Solidarity Organization), Albanian NGO, local partner of AVSI, providing assistance and support to children for over 20 years, told SIR. “This morning we had a meeting with the deputy mayor of Durres and the director of Social Services to discuss the creation of entertainment areas for children in the various hotels that house the evacuees. We are planning to set up four such facilities in Durress, two are ready but still need to be completed with more recreatiational materials like crayons, books, colouring notebooks, and rubber carpets. Each area will be open for at least 10 hours a day with a coordinator and volunteers who will take turns as animators. We are counting on everyone’s help in this activity. There are still many other affected areas that need to be monitored.” Roberta, whose house was destroyed by the earthquake, said that “families with young and older children are traumatized. You see them wondering in the streets in search of family and friends.” “As the hours go by”, the director continued, “displaced families leave the makeshift tent camps and are transferred to the hotels made available by the Government. We will now have to shift child entertainment and assistance activities from the tents to the hotels as soon as possible to continue our mission in support of traumatised children. The objective – Profka concluded – remains the same: to carry out targeted activities for children and their families left without a home.”

Earthquake evacuees in numbers. The Central Directorate for the Management of Natural Disasters has announced that 2633 evacuees are currently housed in hotels in Durres, Shengjin and Kavaja (over 2,500 are hosted by relatives, ed.’s note), while 29 are still being treated (22 at the hospital in Tirana, 4 at the hospital in Durres and 3 transferred abroad). The Government, in cooperation with the Ministry for the Environment, is planning to set up special tent villages for earthquake victims in rural areas so as to enable them to continue their daily agricultural and pastoral activities.

Caritas relief efforts. Caritas Albania is intensively working in relief-and-rescue operations, with 5 teams comprising professionals from local diocesan Caritas with the support of representatives of Caritas Italy, Caritas Austria and CRS (United States). Searches have been carried out in Laç, Shengjin, Durres and Lezhe where many earthquake victims were accommodated in local hotels.

Caritas professionals, including psychologists and nurses, had the opportunity to interact with the elderly and children in particular, offering them psychological assistance through simple medical services such as blood pressure measurement and recreational activities for children. A medical clinic has been set up in the Rafaelo Resort in Shengjin, with 24-hour medical assistance offered by health professionals to the hosted families. Also the Misericordie d’Italia charitable institutions support Caritas Albania by distributing aids as indicated by Caritas Albania, and by transporting people in need of health care (the disabled and the sick) and with limited mobility. Material and financial resources continue to arrive from Italian dioceses. Last Sunday donations were collected for the earthquake victims in the Italian cities of Cremona, Udine, Trento, Milan, Florence, Trani-Barletta-Bisceglie, Molfetta-Ruvo-Giovinazzo-Terlizzi and many others. In Tivoli-Palestrina, Bishop Mauro Parmeggiani visited the Shrine of the Mother of Good Counsel in Genazzano (Palestrina) to celebrate a Holy Mass for the victims of the earthquake and the Albanian people devoted to the Mother of Good Counsel, Patroness of the Albanians in and outside their homeland. According to an ancient tradition, in fact, the painting was transported by the angels from Shkodër (Albania) to Genazzano on April 25, 1467.

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