08/20/2018, 09.44
INDIA
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Humanitarian crisis in Kerala. Card. Gracias to Catholics: We support the effort of Caritas

The death toll of the flood victims reached 370 confirmed deaths. More than 724 thousand people are displaced in makeshift camps. The authorities reopen commercial flights at Kochi airport; six health inspectors located in each municipality to prevent the spread of diseases.

Thiruvananthapuram (AsiaNews) - A humanitarian crisis has been declared in Kerala, as the death toll from the worst floods of the last 100 years worsens by the hour, reaching 370 during the weekend. The spread of epidemics is feared among nearly 800 thousand displaced persons. This is why Card. Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Indian Bishops' Conference (CBCI), has launched an urgent appeal to all Catholics, bishops and local communities to unite in solidarity with Caritas India, which operates through relief teams throughout the Indian state.

In the text of the note we read: "In the name of the whole Catholic Church in India, I appeal with fervor to you, brother bishops and all the ecclesiastical hierarchies, to unite in solidarity and encourage the community of faithful, institutions and people of good will to contribute generously to this humanitarian crisis and to express our solidarity at this crucial moment ".

Yesterday during the Sunday Angelus Pope Francis prayed for the victims and survivors of the natural disaster. "May the concrete solidarity and support of the international community not be lacking to these our brothers and sisters ". The pontiff's appeal follows one made last week by the Indian bishops, who also invite people  "to adopt urgent solutions to preserve the environment and prevent further ecological damage to our common home, Mother Earth".

The social arm of the Church has opened a fundraising campaign to respond immediately and effectively to the emergency caused by the monsoon rains (for more information on how to donate, click here). Speaking to AsiaNews Fr. Paul Moonjely, Executive Director of Caritas India, reports the extent of the devastation: "Over 67 thousand families suffering from flooding and avalanches. There are about 24 thousand hectares of agricultural land lost: this means that most of the affected communities have lost their main source of income, since they are busy working in the fields and are working as day laborers. " "Given that the subsistence [of the population] depends on the daily work in the fields - he continues - there has been a sense of insecurity among the laborers, deriving from the loss of income".

The latest data released by the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reports 724,649 displaced persons who found refuge in 5,645 makeshift camps. Meanwhile, the administration has decided to deploy six health inspectors to each municipality, in order to monitor the medical situation and prevent the spread of diseases related to water unhealthiness. Also today the airport of Kochi has been reopened, but only for the sorting of commercial loads. However, thousands of people are still isolated, especially in rural areas.

Card. Gracias stresses the importance of the Caritas efforts, which "is helping in the 24 dioceses of the state and distributes food, drinking water, clothes and utensils". "There is an urgent need to reach even more blocked and isolated communities in remote areas and unreachable villages. Our timely assistance can meet the needs of those afflicted and reduce the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Kerala. There is an extreme need to rebuild the lives of people and communities, rehabilitating and restoring their livelihoods ".

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