Germany’s deadly floods prompt support from the Third World

The Scotsman

The Germany’s deadly floods have prompted the countries it usually helps to offer their support.

Officials say at least 171 people have died since the flooding began last week. Many more are injured and 155 are missing.

Images of Germany’s flooded villages and towns have prompted international aid agencies to offer compassion and concern.

Agencies including Catholic-run charities like Aid to the Church in Need, Misereor, and Caritas Internationalis are touching base with their ‘related’ German organisations.

Messages through them from developing countries like Cuba, Honduras, Zimbabwe and Mali show their support for one of Europe’s most prosperous nations.

“This solidarity is touching and perhaps a small consolation for the people who lost loved ones as well as their belongings in the flood,” says Florian Ripka, managing director of Aid to the Church in Need Germany.

She has received messages from Lebanon, Ukraine and Papua New Guinea. “Even if our project partners cannot help materially, they are close to the people with thoughts and prayers,” she says.

Misereor, the German bishops’ organisation for development cooperation, is receiving similar messages. “It shows us that solidarity is not a one-way street,” Misereor says.

Many messages mention concern that climate-related hazards can strike with great force even in temperate zones.

The message from executive director of Caritas India, Paul Moonjely, says Germany’s deadly floods are a “wake-up call” to start tackling the urgent climate problem vigorously.

He also wrote of his gratitude to Germany, saying: “People in Germany have always been helpful and willing to reach out to suffering populations around the world, especially in India.”

They want to give something of this “deep feeling” back to the Germans, Moonjely’s says.

Islamic associations in Germany such as the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs and the Islamic Relief asked their members for donations.

They reminded Muslims that the recent pilgrimage to Mecca and the July 19-23 observance of Eid al-Adha, the Islamic feast of sacrifice, call for mercy toward all people.

The commissioner for environmental and climate issues at the German Catholic bishops’ conference, Bishop Rolf Lohmann, says the deadly floods, which have claimed more than 200 lives across Europe, are a “sign of a change in the climate and the environment.”

After the heat and drought of past years, “the inconceivable catastrophe of heavy rain and floods” was an illustration of climate change, he says.

Besides immediate emergency aid, long-term measures to protect against floods were needed, Lohmann says.

His diocese in Muenster in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia sustained widespread damage.

There also is a need for “rapid and efficient action against climate change,” Lohmann says.

“If we do not act decisively now, it will be too late,” he explains, saying the responsibility to act falls on individuals as well as governments.

Lohmann is calling for the wider use of renewable energy, product procurement based on ecological and social criteria, reducing waste and environmentally friendly forms of transport.

He is also demanding that social equality be considered when implementing environmentally sound measures.

They must be affordable for all social groups, he stresses.

At the same time, he says it is important to adhere to ethical criteria in financial investments.


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