Church Helps Myanmar Flood Victims

Editor: Extensive flooding has effected the area of Yangon (previously Rangoon) where our fellow La Salettes have previously ministered from late 1937 until 1976. The Catholic Church is doing its best to help the many thousands of victims.

Untitled-1Flood-affected residents in Kalay, upper Myanmar's Sagaing region. – Copyright © AFP, used with permissionYangon, Myanmar, August 13, 2015 – More than 100 people have been killed and thousands more displaced by monsoon flooding in Myanmar, one of the poorest nations in Asia. With government relief efforts faltering, the Catholic Church is stepping in to offer help…

Fr. Leo Mang told CNA that the Catholic Church is working through local emergency units as well as “Caritas,” the bishops’ social arm, to reach out to victims and offer aid.

In the last month, torrential rains have created landslides and floods in Myanmar, also known as Burma. The current situation in the country varies by region… Residents of more elevated regions are seeing some relief, as water levels begin to subside. However, much of the water has now reached delta areas such as the lower Myanmar Irrawaddy division, and there are fears that dams and reservoirs might burst.

“People have been evacuated to safer zones, and many are accommodated in parish camps,” said Fr. Bosco Saw, head of the Biblical Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar. “People are in a fearful situation in the Irrawaddy division, and we need international help.”

Fr. Saw warned that government response has been slow. The local government was not prepared for a disaster of this scale, he explained, and the hilly terrain has hindered relief efforts. Myanmar has declared a national state of emergency and has appealed for international assistance to help with flood relief.

The slow government response, coupled with the country’s poverty, has particularly affected efforts to the poor and those in less-developed tribal areas.

Untitled-2A Church submerged in flood waters in Myanmar, Burma in August 2015. Photo Credit: Fr. Bosco Saw, used with permissionAccording to local reports, …over 1 million people have been affected by the flooding, making it the worst natural disaster since a major cyclone hit in 2008, the priest said. He added that communication is poor in the current conditions, and there could be many more unreported deaths.

The Catholic Church has stepped up to help with relief efforts… The Catholic community is “gathering donations in the parishes for clothes, food, and medicine to be sent to the flood victims.”

…Sister Elizabeth Joseph, a member of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, is helping coordinate relief efforts with volunteers… “We need the mercy of God,” she told CNA.

(Used with permission from CNA, the Catholic News Association; see their website)

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