Relief Efforts Strained by Multiple Disasters in Asia

( [email protected] ) Oct 08, 2009 11:52 AM EDT
Christian relief groups are responding simultaneously to several major natural disasters in South Asia, which has caused the groups to appeal urgently for donations.
Earthquake survivors carry boxes of food aid distributed by Indonesian Air Police helicopter in Koto Dalam, West Sumatra, Indonesia, Monday, Oct. 5, 2009. Rescue workers called off the search Monday for life under the rubble left by a massive earthquake, focusing instead on bringing aid to survivors in the towns and hills of western Indonesia, despite being hampered by torrential rains. (Photo: AP Images / Dita Alangkara)

Christian relief groups are responding simultaneously to several major natural disasters in South Asia, which has caused the groups to appeal urgently for donations.

Operation Blessing International, one of the largest charities in America, reported this week that it has decided to expand its disaster relief efforts to India and Vietnam in addition to Indonesia and the Philippines.

In Indonesia, OBI has over 40 relief workers on the ground helping victims affected by the recent 7.6-magnitude quake that claimed thousands of lives. Relief efforts include medical teams as well as logistics and distribution teams. OBI staffs are handing out thousands of shelter kits containing mattresses, blankets and other materials to victims. Thousands of families are also receiving survival kits that contain food, water and emergency provisions.

Nearby in the Philippines, which was hit by two typhoons, OBI reported helping more than 97,000 victims with relief items such as emergency food and water, medical care and cleanup assistance. Eighty percent of buildings in the capital city, Manila, are flooded, the group noted.

Samaritan’s Purse is also on the ground in Indonesia and the Philippines, providing temporary shelters, tool kits, blankets, hygiene kits and food parcels. The nonprofit said it has distributed 4,400 food packages to help more than 20,000 people in the latter country. Another 650 food packages will be distributed in Manila by Thursday, it reported. The group will also distribute 2,100 blankets, 2 community water filters, 1,056 hygiene kits, and 2 water storage units to help survivors in Manila.

A Samaritan’s Purse team is planning to deliver 15 tons of relief supplies and 2,600 food parcels to hard-to-reach areas in the North Luzon region where no assistance has reached survivors yet.

Heavy rains have also caused record-breaking flooding in India where at least 270 people have been killed and millions left homeless. The flooding in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are said to be the worst the region has seen in the past 100 years.

Gospel for Asia reports that more than 170 church buildings among its congregations were damaged or destroyed, and at least 30,000 GFA-related families have been affected.

Dr. Rajesh Dasari of Operation Blessing India said the ministry was the first non-governmental organization to conduct a medical camp in the district of Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday.

“It was a timely help as the government hospital was shut down when it was inundated with flood water,” commented Dasari.

OBI relief teams have already distributed over 7,000 food and water packets in India.

And in Vietnam, OBI is delivering emergency meals to thousands of people in the central province of Quang Nam where Typhoon Ketsana has affected some 3 million people in the country.

Since Friday, OBI has delivered over 3,000 emergency meals in flooded areas in Quang Nam only accessible by boat. Workers are also preparing to help repair some of the hundreds of homes damaged by the storms.

Bill Horan, president of OBI, said the last week has seen an unprecedented amount of disasters in Asia with tens of millions displaced. “Operation Blessing International is helping in four of the hardest-hit countries, but we would like to expand efforts to assist victims," he stated.

“Cash donations are badly needed at this time,” he appealed, “and OBI will send 100 percent of all donations received directly to these disaster relief efforts."

Several Christian groups have sent e-mail donation appeals for victims of the natural disasters in South Asia as well as American Samoa, which joined the list of countries needing assistance last week when it was hit by a massive tsunami. The groups include Christian Aid and Campus Crusade for Christ International.

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