India, Caritas in front line of relief efforts for Kashmir flood victims
New Delhi (AsiaNews) - A rescue team of Caritas India is at the forefront of support for survivors of floods that have hit Jammu and Kashmir in recent weeks. Along with the dioceses of the State and the Jammu and Kashmir Catholic Social Service Society, the social arm of the Catholic Church is distributing food, blankets, medical kits and medicine round the clock. But the most urgent need is to reach the most isolated villages.
Days of torrential rains have resulted in major rivers that run through the valley of Kashmir to break their banks, causing floods, landslides and mudslides. The water level has reached 25 feet, submerging homes and villages. According to official figures, 200 people have died; 23 thousand have been evacuated; at least 600 thousand are in need of immediate assistance. About 2,500 villages are cut off from all forms of communication and are still inaccessible.
"Our timely assistance - says Card. Cleemis Thottunkal, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) - will help meet the immediate needs of the affected and reduce the sufferings of our brothers and sisters in Jammu and Kashmir. There would be huge need emerging to rebuild the lives of the people and communities with rehabilitation and restoration of livelihoods."
The Cardinal then launched an appeal to bishops, priests, nuns and faithful, so that together respond to this humanitarian call. "We, the Catholic Church in India - he added - express our solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and offer our prayers and condolences to all those who lost their lives and property in the devastating floods of this magnitude in six decades."