Catholic agencies step up relief efforts in Pakistan
Church agencies working in Pakistan have stepped up their efforts to distribute vitally needed relief supplies to some of the millions of people affected by the worst flood in the South Asian nation’s history.
The response gained momentum as Pope Benedict expressed his condolences in a telegram to Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore, head of Pakistan’s bishops’ conference.
“The Holy Father commends the deceased to the Almighty” and “prays for all involved in providing assistance to the victims,” the Pope said in his message.
Cooking equipment, hygiene kits and bedding were being delivered to severely hit areas, but workers said devastating conditions were hampering the efforts of relief workers.
“Access to a lot of the affected areas is still impossible, and it’s hard to organise distribution amid the panic,” according to John Joseph of Caritas Islamabad-Rawalpindi.
He spoke in the compound of Holy Name Church in Nowshehra, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where distribution began after prayers and blessings from parish priest, Fr Amir Yaqub.
Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based umbrella agency for national Catholic charities, launched an appeal 12 August asking member agencies for £3.5 million to fund Catholic relief efforts in Pakistan over the next three months.
“The situation grows increasingly desperate,” the appeal said, adding that more than 1,600 people had died and about 14 million people were directly affected by the flooding. (Source: CNS)