Disaster Relief

The terrible ongoing tragedy of El Salvador's civil war has been compounded by the major earthquake that struck the capital city of San Salvador last week, killing almost 900 people, injuring another 10,000 and leaving perhaps 200,000 homeless.

If there is any consolation for that small, sad nation in its current travail, it is that seven years of warfare has seen the establishment in El Salvador of a network of relief and refugee organizations experienced at helping displaced people.

Local citizens who want to help the nation's earthquake victims would be well-advised to do so by writing checks to "El Salvador Earthquake Relief" and sending them to any of the following groups:

The American Red Cross, CARE, Church World Service, Medical Aid for El Salvador, Oxfam America, Operation California, the Presiding Bishops Fund for World Relief of the Episcopal Church, Save the Children and UNICEF.

Los Angeles has the largest Salvadoran community outside that country, more than 300,000 people, so money donations can also be made through Los Angeles' Roman Catholic Archdiocese and the Southern California Ecumenical Council, both of which have ties to churches in El Salvador. The local Salvadoran consulate, 634 S. Spring St., is also accepting material donations, such as blankets and lamps.

The type of help most needed in El Salvador now--medicines and building material--suggests to us that the most useful donations are financial. The relief agencies in that country know how to help people, but the earthquake has created an additional burden that will rapidly deplete stores of bulk food and medicines. Monetary donations will help replenish those supplies, and also buy the wood, bricks and other materials needed to start rebuilding.

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