Churches and Christian charities have joined the massive relief effort in Assam state in the northeast region of India, which recently experienced a devastating flood that has claimed over 125 lives and left nearly three million people homeless.
Torrential monsoon rains have inundated thousands of villages and submerged roads and towns in 23 of the 27 districts of Assam, through which the Brahmaputra river runs.
"The impact of the flood has been devastating," Rev. Jolly Rimai, emergency coordinator of the Council of Baptist Churches of North-East India (CBCNEI), headquartered in Guwahati, the capital of Assam.
At least 18 churches and several schools have been washed away or damaged, according to Rimai.
As the CBCNEI mobilizes its congregations, Rimai said it will reach out to needy families, regardless of their faith. Later, it will commence rehabilitation work for affected Christian families.
"We have rushed emergency relief kits to 2,000 families in two of the worst-hit districts," said Satyjit Sen, chief zonal officer for eastern region of Churches Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA), a charity wing of the Orthodox and Protestant churches from Kolkatta.
Reaching targeted areas is a major problem, as roads have been damaged and even washed away, noted Sen, who said the government has asked CASA to help coordinate relief work in two districts of Barapata and Sonitpur.
More than 60 volunteers, already trained by CASA in disaster management, are helping people in the some of worst affected villages and assessing their requirements, said Sen.
Caritas India, a social action wing of the Roman Catholic church, has also initiated major relief work in coordination with local Catholic dioceses. It has facilitated emergency medical aid to more than 500 people.
Caritas India will also begin water and sanitation intervention, with an effort to increase awareness of health and hygiene, according to a press statement. Livelihood restoration and shelter repair will be initiated once the water recedes and families begin to return back to their villages.
[With acknowledgements to ENInews. ENInews, formerly Ecumenical News International, is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]