By Robin Gomes
The Pope’s closeness and solidarity for the people of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, devastated by Cyclone Idai, has taken a concrete form.
The Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development announced on Friday that the Pontiff has decided to send an initial contribution of €150 thousand to the 3 countries to help in the first phase of the emergency.
The Pope's initiative came not long after his appeal during his General Audience on Wednesday, in which he urged for prayers and support for the victims of the disaster.
The intense tropical cyclone made landfall on 15 March near Beira, Mozambique, and moved inland causing widespread damage and severe flooding in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe.
Described by the United Nations as “one of the worst weather-related disasters ever to hit the southern hemisphere,” Idai has killed 242 people in Mozambique, 259 in Zimbabwe and 56 in Malawi, and numbers are expected to rise. Nearly two million people have been affected.
The Vatican Dicastery said the Pope’s contribution to the relief efforts is “intended to be an immediate expression of the Holy Father's feeling of spiritual closeness and paternal encouragement towards the people and territories affected.”
The sum, to be distributed equally among the countries through their respective Apostolic nunciatures, will benefit areas most affected by the disaster and will be used in relief works and assistance to people and territories.
This is part of the overall fund that is being raised throughout the Catholic Church involving various bishops’ conferences and numerous charitable organizations.
The UN’s World Food Programme estimates 1.7 million people in Mozambique will eventually need help as a result of the disaster.
With waters receding and water and sanitation systems largely destroyed, the spectre of waterborne diseases looms large on the horizon.