Monsoon rains have devastated the country, but the dead are no longer news. The Catholic charity released data on aid and the widespread destruction. In 2018-2019, some 30,000 volunteers helped eight million people. More than 840 people have died.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Floods caused by monsoon rains have left at least 842 people dead, affecting 141,000 houses, 14,462 villages, nearly 18 million people, with more than a million displaced, as well as 580,000 hectares of cropland in six Indian states, this according to a report released by Caritas India, which has played a leading role in relief efforts since flooding began.
Volunteers from the Catholic charity are currently involved in 178 villages, helping almost 95,000 people. But for its executive director, Fr Paul Moonjely, "Humanity is the best charity," he told AsiaNews.
Although flooding is no longer front-page news in Indian papers, it is necessary “to keep the poor at the centre of all our actions,” he said. Meanwhile, through local partners, Caritas is helping more than 21,000 families in Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
At present, water is the most pressing issue as flooding contaminated regular potable water sources. It is indeed too risky to drink water from wells, pumps and tanks. Lavatories are also under water and so unusable, whilst women and girls are in need of hygiene kits.
In its report, Caritas notes that the intensity of the rainfall took many by surprise, leaving them unable to take essential items from their homes. Grain supplies have also been lost or spoilt.
According to charity, the most serious aspect of the situation is that the people hit by this year's rains were already struggling to return to a "normal" life after the devastation of past years.
For now, food (rice, beans, oil, sugar) distribution and shelter (tents) are the top concerns as are water decontamination, blankets, and warm clothes for cold nights. On the long run however, action is needed to rebuild homes, store supplies, support agriculture and livestock, and restore people’s livelihoods.
Caritas India was founded in 1962 to preserve the dignity and sacredness of the human person, serving the most disadvantaged sections of society. The Catholic charity’s vales are love, equality and peace, in partnership with local partners who share the same vision of restoring dignity and human rights to the poor and marginalised.
In 2018-2019, the organisation undertook 205 development projects with 248 local partners, reaching over 8 million people with 33,000 volunteers, who yesterday celebrated the day dedicated to them.
these projects range from natural disaster relief and support for farmers and small businesses affected by climate change to fighting human trafficking, helping migrants in urban centres, protecting women and girls from sexual exploitation, educating children, preventing epidemics and accompanying HIV-positive patients.
Above all, "we are working for peace and humanity,” said Fr Paul. “When a person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed." (A.C.F.)