05/18/2015, 00.00
NEPAL
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Quake survivors forced to drink contaminated water, “only the Christians help us”

by Christopher Sharma
A village has run out of drinking water and the survivors are forced to drink that is mixed with animal carcasses and dead people. Political parties (majority and opposition) only send aid to their supporters. The director of Caritas Nepal explains the relationship between government and associations in an emergency.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - In the Nepalese village of Singati (district Dolhaka) the population has no clean water to drink. Krishna Tamang, a survivor of the earthquake, said: "About 50 percent of the houses were left standing after the earthquake of April 25, but the May 12 aftershock destroyed them all. We residents have pulled out at least 150 dead bodies from the rubble. In the village there is the stink of decomposing bodies. We have no clean water and we are forced to drink from sources contaminated with the carcasses of dead animals and people". In this devastation "just some philanthropic organizations and Christian associations have reached us and brought emergency supplies and food, but until today [yesterday, editor's note] twe have had no sign of the government”.

Almost a month after the earthquake that devastated Nepal, the situation is still far from back to normal. To date, the death toll is 8,567 dead, more than 18 thousand wounded and dozens of people who have suffered permanent mutilation. As evidenced by analysts and survivors themselves, the Catholic Church, Caritas from around the world and foreign and local Christian associations are the only ones helping those who are still stuck in remote areas and still at risk.

The Catholic churches in the country - including the Cathedral of the Assumption in Lalitpur (Kathmandu), the church of Baniyatar and the Godavari - are in full service. In addition to raising funds for the survivors, they have organized teams of volunteers to provide relief and distribute aid.

Celebrating the Mass yesterday Fr. Bijaya Toppo, a Catholic priest, said: "We all should offer humanitarian aid to the victims of the earthquake, according to our ability. We are Catholics and different to others, because our service is not discriminatory: we witness the presence of Jesus with prayer and work. "

Fr. Ignatius Rai, pastor of the Cathedral of the Assumption in Kathmandu, says: "The Church and Catholic organizations are working in the most affected districts, such as Gorkha, Nuwakot, Dhading, Dolakha, Sindhupalchowk and Okhaldhunga. We do our best, but our resources are limited and our efforts alone are not enough to help the people".

Professor Kapil Shrestha says: "I have heard many people say that the Christian and international organizations has been swift and honest in distributing aid, as opposed to the government. The government has a lot of relief materials, but most are still stuck in the airport customs or at the border. It is sad to see our leaders argue over where to send aid, while the population struggles to survive. "

In Rome to attend the General Assembly of Caritas Internationalis, Father Pius Perumana, executive director of Caritas Nepal, tries to explain the relationship between government and associations in an emergency to AsiaNews: "For years, Caritas has been collaborating with the government and there has never been any problems. " "It is not accurate - he said - to say that the government has asked all those who help to leave. Many countries have sent troops and rescue teams even without the approval of the government of Nepal. "

The director of Caritas Nepal explains: "Every time there is a disaster, the Red Cross has command of all operations and we must follow its directives. All institutions of the country, scattered in the different districts, must work together centrally. " "Often, however - continues Fr. Pius - foreign groups do not understand this complexity, they come with good intentions but do not know the language, the local situation or how the organization works. This creates confusion”.

 "10 to 12 days after the earthquake - says the priest - the government had to make a decision, whether to continue the search or start rebuilding. It decided that the research phase for survivors was over and all the foreign teams that had come for that specific purpose had to stop”.

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