This report is contributed by Maria Lozano and Oliver Maksan of Aid to the Church in Need.
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Severe monsoon rainfall this summer has affected large swaths of Myanmar, putting some 1.3 million people at risk, particularly in the impoverished states of the particularly poor states of Chin and Rakhine in the west. To-date, 100 victims have died. The local church is on the forefront of providing aid.
International Catholic relief organization Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has sprung into action to provide relief and serve as a conduit of information about the ongoing emergency situation. Local sources from the predominantly Christian region of Chin told
Local sources from the predominantly Christian region of Chin have told ACN that “our region has never seen a calamity as extreme as the one that took place in the first week of August.” For example, “Hakha is a mountainous region where various tribes of Chins have dwelt on mountains’ slopes and tops. Most of these mountains have been affected by landslides. The town of Hakha took the worst of the fury of nature’s impact.
“Most of the buildings are affected. People’s houses are damaged. Cracks have appeared in many houses and the people are scared to continue living in them. The access roads were heavily damaged, thus making the relief supply more difficult. Half of the houses are totally destroyed in many areas. Our people have never seen such a disaster in their lives.”
The local Church’s infrastructure has also suffered damage, according to local sources. So far the cathedral of Hakha remains untouched, although the structure is threatened by landslides. However, five churches and many public buildings have reportedly been destroyed by landslides.
The government is helping, but many places are in remote areas and access remains difficult. “The Church is familiar with the remote villages and has started to help. Now people need above all food and medical help, as well as emergency accommodation. Emergency aid must be provided. The majority of the people will probably need to be relocated,” Church sources told ACN. The full extent of the damage and the need for humanitarian relief have yet to be fully
“However, the spirit of solidarity and willingness to help on the spot is great and admirable. After all, many are very poor themselves,” a local Church representative told ACN.
Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. www.churchinneed.org (USA); www.acnuk.org (UK); www.aidtochurch.org (AUS); www.acnireland.org (IRL); www.acn-aed-ca.org (CAN)