Caritas urges solidarity for flood victims worldwide


Caritas Australia Floods News Story
A scene from the devastation in Pakistan last year.
As hundreds of thousands of Australians continue the cleanup from January’s horrific deluge, Caritas Australia extends solidarity and heartfelt support to the millions of people worldwide whose lives have been affected by floods in the past six months.

In the first month of this year, Australians, Sri Lankans and communities in Brazil have shared the horror of natural disaster as floods ravaged homes and lives in all three nations.

Six months ago, intense monsoonal rain and prolonged flooding claimed up to 2,000 lives and displaced millions in Pakistan’s north-west. The floods - which at their peak covered one fifth of the country – affected up to 20 million people and their impact will continue to threaten communities in the years to come.

“We have become accustomed to the images of natural disaster and flooding beyond our shores - scenes of devastation around the world never fail to invoke our compassion," Caritas Australia’s CEO Jack de Groot said.

"And in January, we watched in shock as Queensland, northern New South Wales and Victoria fought their own battle with widespread destruction here at home.

“The horrific images of floodwater submerging much of Australia feels all too familiar as we recall the torrent of water unleashed on vulnerable communities in Pakistan just six-months ago. To witness such devastation at home and abroad in six short months, reiterates the fragility of life and calls for our ongoing solidarity with all those who are threatened by disaster the world over."

Protecting the dignity of those at greatest risk

In the six months since Pakistan’s floods began, Australians and the Australian Government’s agency for aid and development, AusAID, have generously contributed in excess of $4 million towards Caritas Australia’s emergency response.

To date, almost half this figure has been used to meet the immediate needs of marginal communities. The international Caritas network has distributed food, shelter, blankets and cookware to more than 200,000 people, and provided health and sanitation assistance to almost 50,000. Caritas’ ongoing cash for work initiatives have so far employed thousands across the country and enabled the reconstruction of more than 400 roads, bridges and vital water schemes.

For Caritas Australia, protecting the dignity of those at greatest risk is critical to the recovery effort. Australian support has seen more than 8,000 women and children evacuated to safe spaces, and given the opportunity to access ongoing counselling and psychosocial support.

"As we commit to the ongoing reconstruction of a devastated nation and work to reinvigorate agriculture, provide housing, and secure water supplies, ensuring the rights and dignity of the most vulnerable communities will be fundamental to the long-term recovery of the nation," Mr de Groot said.

Since the onset of flooding in Australia this January, Caritas has received messages of support from many of its partners working in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.

"Our partners in Sri Lanka and Brazil have offered their solidarity and prayers as our nations experience historic flooding; though Australians may have greater resources to recover, our partners know that human suffering is not a numbers game," Mr de Groot said.

“It is this solidarity and determination to uphold human dignity that connects us with the rest of the world; that inspires our partners to extend their support; and that motivates Australians to contribute financially in times of dire need – be it to their neighbour in Queensland or a community in the furthest reaches of Pakistan.

“As we mark the six months since Pakistan’s floods began, we ask that Australians stay connected to the vulnerable communities they help us to support year round. For all those who experience natural disaster and bear the burden of intractable poverty, the value of your steadfast support and solidarity is immeasurable.”

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Tags: Caritas Australia   floods   Jack de Groot

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