VATICAN CITY, AUG. 25, 2010 (Zenit.org).- While material aid is needed to help the victims of massive flooding in Pakistan, which has affected some 20 million people, it’s not enough.
Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, affirmed this today on Vatican Radio when he announced that Benedict XVI has sent a donation to Caritas for the humanitarian effort.
Pakistan saw its most devastating monsoon rainy season in decades, which caused flooding that brought as many as 2,000 deaths. The area affected by the floods is about the size of England.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today that as many of 800,000 people are stranded and cut off from needed aid. The country is bracing for more flooding as the Indus River is expected to continue rising through the end of the week.
Cardinal Cordes noted that while material aid is needed, it is “not enough: a message must be given.”
The cardinal noted that “material aid shows compassion, but it cannot change the situation. It cannot bring the dead back to life.”
“With money something small can be done, and that is important,” Cardinal Cordes continued, “but that isn’t enough: a message is necessary that goes beyond earthly life.”
“The charity of man is born of the love of God,” he added, and urged Christians to “keep this transcendental dimension present.”
Caritas Internationalis reported Tuesday that it will nearly double its initial US$5.5 million (4.3 million euro) emergency appeal for funds as it seeks to extend its three-month emergency operation in Pakistan to six months.
“An enormous number of people need help and Caritas is boosting its operations to ensure they are taken care of. Funds have been promised for current operations but we need to ensure that this money is donated and is transformed into food, tents, water and medicine as soon as possible and before the situation deteriorates further,” said Anila Gill, national director of Caritas Pakistan.
Caritas has been providing food, water, shelter, hygiene and cooking items, as well as medical support in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh.
The aid agency is concerned that the flooding could cause many long-term problems such as rising prices for food, water and petrol, an increased vulnerability to water-borne diseases such as cholera and stomach problems, and a food shortage if the fields are still flooded at the beginning of planting season, which begins in September.