09/28/2007, 00.00
INDIA
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Orissa: Catholics help population affected by monsoon rains

by Nirmala Carvalho
More than 800,000 people lose home and work as a result of last month’s monsoon rains and are now living in very precarious conditions. Catholic Relief Services, Caritas and local parishes help local communities; aim at restoring their sense of dignity.

Balasore (AsiaNews) – Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has provided temporary shelters, medicine and food as well as health care and spiritual comfort to the population of the eastern Indian state of Orissa after it was hit by violent flooding last month. According to government figures some 800,000 lost homes and jobs and are now stuck in a difficult situation.

Caroline Brennan, South Asia regional information officer for Catholic Relief Services, told AsiaNews that “hundreds of houses have been reported destroyed and thousands of families have sought refuge in emergency shelters established by CRS partners.”

CRS partners like Caritas India have responded immediately by providing emergency accommodation to 2,400 families. 

Local parishes responded as well. The Balasore Social Service Society (BSSS) was able to accommodate 500 families.

According to Brennan, shelter, water and sanitation remain urgent problems if outbreaks of diseases are to be avoided. Food must be cleaned with particular care.

Too often, “the brunt of the flooding falls on poor and marginalised communities. These are just the people who lack the influence and money to recover from natural disasters,” she said.

For this reason, the CRS has implemented disaster-preparedness programmes in crises-prone areas. Using a variety of techniques, these programmes help communities bolster their resources and establish life-saving contingency plans so that they can stand on their feet on their own as soon as the emergency is ended.

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