Vatican City, Aug 24, 2021 / 05:20 am (CNA).
Pope Francis will send over $230,000 in aid for victims of the Haiti earthquake which struck Aug. 14.
The amount is “an initial contribution” to help the people of Haiti “in this emergency phase,” according to the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development.
In an Aug. 24 press release, the dicastery said the money will be distributed to the Catholic dioceses most in need, with collaboration from the Vatican’s embassy in Haiti, the apostolic nunciature.
The funds “will be used to assist the earthquake victims and is intended to be an immediate expression of the feeling of spiritual closeness and paternal encouragement towards the people and territories affected, demonstrated by the Holy Father,” it said.
A 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the island of Haiti on the night of Aug. 14. The death toll from the devastating quake had risen to over 2,200 people on Aug. 22, according to Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency.
More than 340 people are still missing and 12,268 are injured. The protection agency said nearly 53,000 homes were destroyed in what is the largest natural disaster to hit Haiti since the 2010 earthquake.
According to BBC News, people are sleeping outside in fear that aftershocks will tumble more buildings, and health experts in the country are bracing for a public health disaster.
“The sanitation situation is quite critical… it is our hope that we don’t have an outbreak of cholera,” Nadesha Mijoba of the Haitian Health Foundation told BBC News.
Pope Francis called for international solidarity to alleviate suffering in Haiti after his Angelus message on Aug. 15.
“I wish to express my closeness to those dear people who have been hard hit by the earthquake,” he said, asking people to offer a Hail Mary to Our Lady of Haiti.
“As I raise my prayers to the Lord for the victims, I address a word of encouragement to the survivors, desiring that the international community will take a shared interest in them. May the solidarity of all alleviate the consequences of the tragedy,” Pope Francis added.
The president of the Italian bishops’ conference has pledged to give $1.17 million to Haiti, to be distributed through the bishops’ charity office, Caritas Italiana.
Pope Francis is also sending emergency financial aid to Bangladesh and Vietnam, the human development office said Aug. 24.
He will send around $69,000 to Bangladesh, which is struggling after being hit by a severe cyclonic storm at the end of May. Cyclone Yaas caused strong winds and tidal surges which severely damaged the country’s coastal areas and fishing villages.
The Vatican said the pope will also donate around $117,000 to Vietnam, which is “in a state of grave need due to the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.”