CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 14 September 2019

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Appeal for devastated Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE (SE): “Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. This is the biggest disaster since the 2010 earthquake when 100,000 people died. People need food and water immediately. Materials to repair houses…,” Caritas Haiti said in a press release on October 6.

The director of Caritas Haiti, Father Jean Hervé François, said that the poverty of the people and the lack of infrastructure in the country has magnified the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew, which swept across the country on October 4, leaving death and destruction in its wake.

“There are still people living in temporary housing as a result of the earthquake, so it is so important that a more permanent solution to housing is found,” the press release continues.

Caritas has launched a worldwide appeal to raise Ä250,000 ($2.13 million) to carry out immediate relief work in the devastated nation of Haiti. Hurricane Matthew forced over 15,500 people to flee their homes and left at least 350,000 in grave need of immediate assistance.

Catholic Relief Services in the United States of America has committed itself to raise US$5 million ($38.75 million) to help Haiti deal with immediate recovery needs.

However, a spokesperson in Miami said that it also has its eye on Cuba and other countries in the Caribbean that suffered from the hurricane as well.

Father François described the south of Haiti as catastrophic. He said that thousands are living in temporary shelters, hungry and with nothing.

He added that in the immediate aftermath of the storm, Caritas was on the scene with food packages, hot meals, blankets and hygiene kits, but floods and infrastructure damage made many affected communities inaccessible.

He described the immediate need as hygiene kits, as there is a serious threat of disease, especially cholera, which came to the country with the relief teams after the terrible earthquake in 2010.

Father François described people with disabilities as being hit the hardest, as it can be extremely difficult for them to help themselves.

A telegramme sent on behalf of Pope Francis from the Vatican secretary of state, Pietro Cardinal Parolin, to Chibly Cardinal Langlois, the president of the Episcopal Conference of Haiti, says, “His Holiness Pope Francis wishes to express his sorrow and to join in prayer in the suffering of all those who have lost loved ones.”

It continues, “He conveys to them his sincerest condolences and assures them of his deep sympathy in these painful circumstances. He entrusts the departed to the mercy of God, that he welcome them in his light, as he expressed his sorrow upon learning of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Matthew.”

John Cardinal Tong Hon, the bishop of Hong Kong, issued an appeal on October 12 expressing solidarity and asking parishes to take up a special collection at all Sunday Masses on October 16.

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