Ireland to Aid Pakistani Flood Victims

Church Collection Planned This Weekend

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DUBLIN, AUG. 20, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Catholics across Ireland are joining to aid the 20 million Pakistani flood victims through a nationwide Church collection this weekend.

Pakistan saw its most devastating monsoon rainy season in decades, which caused flooding that brought as many as 2,000 deaths and affected another 20 million people. The area affected by the floods is about the size of England.

Trocaire, the official overseas development agency of the Church in Ireland, is working to provide emergency relief to the flood victims.

Bishop John Kirby of Clonfert, chairman of the aid agency, is urging Catholics to support this work by giving donations in the local parish collection Saturday and Sunday.

«These floods have left unimaginable destruction and families are in a desperate struggle to survive,» the prelate said.

He continued: «Up to 20 million people have had their lives ruined. Entire communities have been washed away, leaving millions homeless and hungry.

«People are being forced to drink dirty, polluted water and the fear is that children and adults will contract fatal waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, which is a leading cause of childhood death.»

«I hear stories from Trocaire staff about small children filling plastic bottles with filthy water from the canals for their families and using it for washing, cooking and even drinking,» Bishop Kirby stated.

«This puts them at extreme risk of contracting illnesses from waterborne diseases, but they have no choice,» he added. «Already the first cases of cholera have been confirmed.»

The bishop appealed, «This weekend, as the situation continues to deteriorate and more heavy rains are predicted, the I am asking people to give what they can through their local Church collection and to answer the call of our brothers and sisters in Pakistan during this crucial time.»

He acknowledged that «this is a financially difficult time for many Irish families,» but asked nonetheless that «we remember the life-and-death plight facing many Pakistani families who are considerably worse off than ourselves.»

The aid agency is providing food, clean water, water purification tablets, cooking utensils, sleeping mats, sanitary goods, and other items for thousands of Pakistanis. It is also strategizing to help in the long-term recovery, putting together initiatives to rebuild homes and agriculture.

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