09/22/2015, 00.00
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Pakistan, a country of climatic emergencies. Caritas studies Laudato sì

by Kamran Chaudhry
Celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Catholic organization in Lahore. Two days of seminars, meetings, events. The consequences of climate change: hurricanes, droughts, epidemics. Pope Francis’ encyclical "invites us to relate to all living creatures." Caritas’ projects.

Lahore (AsiaNews) - Pakistan is one of the leaders in the ranking of 10 countries with the highest index of climate risk. The World Bank has estimated that the change of temperature in South Asia has caused the country a loss of about 3.6 billion dollars (3.2 billion euro) in the last 18 years.

Not only that, in the last 50 years, there have been epidemics, floods, famine and drought. The last emergency (in chronological order) that the country faced was the constant power outing of the national electrical system that, along with exceptional heat wave in late June caused more than 1,000 deaths in the city of Karachi .

All these considerations on the environmental situation prevailing in the country, have led Caritas Pakistan to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its founding with careful consideration of the message of

Pope Francis "green" encyclical Laudato sì published on June 18.

On September 17 and 18, Caritas Pakistan organized several events at the Renewal Center in Lahore to discuss the ecological challenge launched by the papal encyclical. Executive director, Amjad Gulzar,  told AsiaNews: "Our 50th anniversary gives us the opportunity to renew our commitment to the poor and to protect the environment. We will continue to promote the papal encyclical. It is not the end of a program, but the beginning of a new adventure”.

In its 50 years of activity, Caritas has faced 59 emergencies, including five earthquakes, five droughts, eight health epidemics, 15 mass evacuations and 25 cyclones. The organization already has a number of programs on the field to address climate change: early warning systems in communities affected by disasters, workshops to develop awareness among the population, reforestation campaigns, poster campaigns, theater, workshops on how to use coal powered stoves, organic farming and "do-it-yourself" gardening.

The meetings was attended by five bishops and representatives of Caritas Japan, Caritas Germany, Caritas Switzerland, the Catholic Relief Services [Caritas US - ed] and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) . Scheduled events, included exhibitions and performances by blind dancers.

Muhammad Riaz, one of the guest speakers spoke of the weather emergencies the result of environmental exploitation caused by man. "The increase of the population – he said – has had an effect on the climate of our country. The minimum temperature and the average annual rainfall has increased [because of air pollution] and this is very harmful. Storms and hurricanes are more violent, the power cuts have become the norm, our crops survival rate is less and wildlife is at risk”.

Finally Fr. Pascal Robert, a professor at the National Catholic Institute of Theology in Karachi, referring to the theme of the celebration, noted: "The green encyclical is a wonderful gift not only for Catholics, but for all humanity. It is very important for our life and we have to understand what it preaches, that is, love for the world. It invites us to relate to all living creatures. "


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