Pakistani Bishops call for help amid devastating monsoon floods
By Vatican News staff reporter
As the death toll toll caused by the heavy monsoon floods in Pakistan continues to rise surpassing 1,000, and the Government declares national state of emergency, Pakistani bishops are calling on all people of good will in the country to help out in raising funds for all those affected.
Some 33 million people across Pakistan have been affected by what is considered to the most devastating monsoon in decades, with many killed or injured, homes been washed away, vital farmland destroyed, and the country's main river threatening to overflow. The worst-hit regions are the provinces of Sindh, Baluchistan, and the southern part of Punjab.
Over 1,000 killed
The latest official data show that 1,136 people have died and more than 1,400 injured since June, when the monsoon season began, but the final toll could be higher, as many villages in the mountainous north have been cut off after flood-swollen rivers distroyed communication infrastractures.
Archbishop Travas: urgent aid needed
“Considering the extent of the flood emergency, it is urgent to show solidarity with the the flood victims and people in need,” Archbishop Benny Travas of Karachi, capital of the province of Sindh, told Fides News Agency. “Urgent humanitarian support is needed for the affected families, in particular tents, shelter kits, food, hygiene and sanitary materials, non-perishable food products, clothes are needed.”
Archbishop Travas, who is also national director of Caritas Pakistan, said the organization is receiving many requests from parishes, communities, disaster management committees, district governments.
“The diocesan staff of Caritas in Karachi has already started the monitoring and help work, and I urgently appeal for support and invite people of good will to donate cash or material aid,” the prelate said.
Bishop Shukardin: poor farming families have lost their crops
Bishop Samson Shukardin OFM, of Hyderabad, which has been badly hit by the floodings, has also asked for help.
“I am receiving a lot of phone calls for help from my priests and people in various parishes of the diocese. Ninety percent of the territory of my diocese is flooded due to heavy rain. Many churches, parish houses and schools have been damaged by the deluge,” said the bishop whose diocese is based in Sindh province.
“The people are left homeless and hungry besides the families grieving for the loss of their loved ones. Amid the severe crisis, we ask for help in the form of non-perishable food, clothes, shoes, bed sheets, mosquito nets, tents and toiletries which would be a great help for the people in most need,” he said.
“I am also concerned about the poor farming families who have lost their crops and along with all this damage they will be burdened by more loans, as they are already indebted to their landlords,” the prelate added.
Special prayers and collections
During Sunday Masses all over Pakistan, special prayers were offered for people affected by the floods and the faithful were called on to contribute to the cause to reach out to the suffering.
Pope Francis too expressed his prayerful closeness to the people in Pakistan nd appealed for solidarity during his visit to the Italian city of L’Aquila on Sunday for the Celestinian Pardon.
“I want to assure the people of Pakistan, hit by floods of disastrous proportions, of my closeness. I pray for the numerous victims, for the wounded and those forced from their homes, and that international solidarity might be prompt and generous,” the Pope said at the Angelus.
218,000 houses destroyed and 452,000 damaged
As of August 26 over 218,000 houses have been destroyed and 452,000 houses damaged by the floods.
In addition, 793,000 livestock have died and around 810,000 hectares of crops and orchards have been destroyed. Over 3,000 kilometers of roads and 145 bridges are blocked hampering the ability of people to reach safe areas or access hospitals and vital services. Some 116 districts out of 160 are affected, including 66 districts that have been officially declared calamity areas.
The Education Department revealed that at least 17,566 schools have been damaged or destroyed due to the heavy rains and floods. Rail operations have been partially suspended nationwide due to the flooding which has caused losses of 10 billion rupees for the rail network.
As reported by Ucanews, the disaster could not have come at a worse time for Pakistan's dwindling economy.
On Monday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) executive board is scheduled to meet to decide whether to green-light the resumption of a $6 billion loan program essential for the country to service its foreign debt, but it is already clear the country will need more to repair and rebuild after this monsoon.