CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 14 September 2019

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Pope sends aid to cyclone devastated southeast Africa

VATICAN (Agencies): As an immediate sign of his concern and an encouragement to other donors, Pope Francis has sent US$50,000 ($392,000) each to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi to assist with initial emergenacy relief efforts after Cyclone Idai hit the region and caused massive flooding, Catholic News Service reported on March 22.
 
In Mozambique, more than 700 people were feared dead and more casualties expected as of March 23, africanews.com reported.
 
The dicastery, will distribute the aid from the pope through the Vatican nunciatures in each country, said the week of torrential rain in the region has “razed to the ground tens of thousands of homes and public buildings” and made major roads impassable.
 
Thousands have been injured and hundreds of thousands left homeless, according to the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. 
 
The BBC reported that 259 people had died in Zimbabwe, while 56 people died in Malawi as of March 24. It said Some 1.7 million people were thought to have been affected across southern Africa, with no electricity or running water in areas where homes have been swept away and roads destroyed by the floods.
 
The Vatican discastery reported that water and electricity distribution systems had been compromised and there is a growing concern about the spread of diseases, particularly through unclean water.
 
The Vatican described Pope Francis’ donation as a “first contribution” and “an immediate expression of his feeling of spiritual closeness” to the people impacted, and noted that the contribution is only “part of the aid that is being gathered throughout the Catholic Church” from bishops’ conferences and charitable organisations.
 
On its website, Caritas Internationalis reported that vast areas of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe were under water and cut off, and it feared that more than 1,000 people had died.
 
The website reported that Caritas Mozambique was importing 1,500 tarps that would go to Beira, the country’s fourth largest city as soon as possible.
 
Antonio Anosso, humanitarian officer for Caritas Mozambique said, “We still face some challenges in getting information from Beira because there is no communication. There is lack of food, water and shelter.
 
“Our priority for staff in the disaster zone is rescuing people, accommodation, registering the affected group. But they do not have resources to respond to food, water and shelter needs,” he said.
 
“We urgently need food, corrugated iron, water, sanitation, shelter and seeds,” Anosso said.
 
Caritas Internationalis has set up an online aid donation facility at https://www.caritas.org/donation/mozambique-cyclone/
 

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