Floods and landslides caused by torrential rains have left more than 500 people in Brazil dead and left more than 13,000 homeless.
It is being described as the worst natural disaster the country has experienced in the last 40 years. Entire neighbourhoods have been carried away by the mudslides.
Rescue and aid operations are difficult as access to the affected mountainous areas around 100 kilometres north of Rio remains limited.
“Many telephone lines have been cut and roads can’t be used,” said Maria Cristina dos Anjos, Secretary General of Caritas Brazil.
“The Bishop of Petropolis told me there is total chaos where he is. People urgently need drinking water, food and hygiene articles. Many have lost their homes.”
As help has not reached all affected areas yet, the death toll is expected to rise more.
Caritas Brazil together with the Brazilian Bishop’s Conference is calling for donations and setting up emergency relief operations for the victims.
Caritas will provide affected people with drinking water, hygiene articles, mattresses, blankets, food items, health care and other aid covering people’s most urgent needs.
The local Caritas of Nova Friburgo, Teresópolis and Petrópolis have been mobilized. People made homeless by the mudslides are being hosted in churches.
“As usual, the poorest are the worst affected in this disaster. Those who live in makeshift homes and who out of poverty have to settle in high risk zones are particularly vulnerable. More prevention could have saved many lives in this disaster,” said Ms. dos Anjos.
“The precarious situation of the poor is a problem in many parts of Brazil. Whether it is these flood victims, people living in slums in the big urban areas or indigenous communities in the Amazon rainforest suffering from the consequences of deforestation, more needs to be done to insure decent living conditions to the poor.”
Donations can be sent to:
Caixa Econômica Federal (CEF) – Agência 1041 – OP. 003 – Conta Corrente 1490-8; ou na do Banco do Brasil – Agência 3475-4 – Conta Corrente 32.000-5.
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