Churches mobilize as flooding affects Brazil

January 19, 2011

NEW YORK

Church and ecumenical groups in Brazil are gathering resources to help the thousands affected by devastating floods and mudslides near Rio de Janeiro.

In the past week, days of heavy rain have drenched hillside towns around the city. More than 600 people have died and another 14,000 people have been driven from their homes, according to state officials.

ACTAlliance said its member organizations in Brazil — including Christian Aid-Brazil, Koinonia, the Lutheran Federation of Diaconia (FLD), Ecumenical Coordinator of Services (CESE) and Diaconia — “will work together to help the affected populations.”

Based in Geneva, ACTAlliance is an organization of 105 churches and church-related organizations that work together in humanitarian assistance and development. It includes the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.

In an news release dated Jan. 17, ACTAlliance also said that “community-based churches in the [affected] cities have already deployed emergency response and offered solidarity with the victims.” Government officials are currently assessing the extent of the damage, it said.

“In general, the local population has been very supportive. Likewise, different regions of the country are raising funds to support the affected regions. The national churches have already opened bank accounts for the benefit of communities hardest hit.

"In the coming days, an ecumenical emergency response will be more fully structured. Following this, a rehabilitation project under the coordination of Koinonia and the accompaniment of other ACT member organizations in Brazil, will be drawn up,” ACTAlliance said.

Separately, Brazil’s Catholic bishops have launched a campaign to help flood victims. According to Catholic News Service, churches were making their buildings available to “shelter people left homeless by the flooding and receive the bodies of victims.”

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