12/16/2014, 00.00
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Java, the Church in the field for flood victims: volunteers and basic needs

by Mathias Hariyadi
The last toll estimates 57 victims; four days from the landslide, rescue teams are still searching for survivors. The Parish of St. Anthony in Banjarnegara has set up two emergency centers. Caritas in Purwokerto has taken action sending dozens of volunteers. Help appreciated by Muslim NGOs.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The Catholic Church in Indonesia is in the front line in the work of aid and relief for the population affected,  in the past days, by a landslide of enormous dimensions that has caused dozens of victims and displaced persons. Torrential rains which have invested the district of  Banjarnegara in central Java in recent days are the cause of the landslide. The updated toll caused by the floods is of some 57 victims; thousands more have been affected. Four days from the disaster, rescuers (pictured) are still digging in the mud in  search of missing persons.

The Parish of St. Anthony in Banjarnegara has set up two centers to meet the crisis: the first within the premises of the parish, in the center of Banjarnegara; the second is located in a chapel for prayer in Karangkobar, the village closest to the area affected by the landslide.

Catholic volunteers are doing their utmost in providing help to those who are housed in tents and temporary emergency in Karangkobar. Food, clean water and other basic necessities such as blankets, bedding, medicine are urgently needed. This is the rainy season, in which very intense downpours often occur on a daily basis. With the passing of hours the chances of finding survivors diminishes; the rescue operations also involve specially trained  dogs, but so far have not yielded significant results.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Fr. Christy Mahendra, a priest of the Diocese of Purwokerto who is working in the area, says that the Parish of St. Anthony has opened a bank account to raise funds in aid of the victims. "As the hours pass - he said - more and more faithful are giving their support to the mission of the Church that aims to be prepared in emergency situations."

Meanwhile, the Caritas offices in Purwokerto have provided volunteers and qualified personnel; dozens of people have come from the Dioceses of Bandung, Semarang and from the Sanata Dharma Catholic University of Yogyakarta bringing concrete witness of Christian solidarity in crisis situations. Their work is also appreciated by Muslim groups and associations (Indonesia is the country with the largest number of followers of Islam in the world). The Dompet Duafa  NGO has asked to Caritas to collaborate and coordinate efforts in order to better respond to the emergency.


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