1998 NCC News Archives
In the Wake of El Niņo's Devastation,
Funds for humanitarian response to El Niņo, including the storms in California and Florida, may be directed to: CHURCH WORLD SERVICE, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515. Phone pledges or credit card donations: 1-800-762-0968. Who We Are Church World Service works in more than 70 countries, including the U.S., in disaster relief, human development and refugee assistance. It is a ministry of the National Council of Churches, the nation's preeminent ecumenical organization which includes 34 Protestant and Orthodox member communions with a combined membership of nearly 52 million.
YORK, March 4, 1998 -- As the El Niņo weather phenomenon wreaks havoc worldwide,
including in the United States, Church World Service (CWS) is providing a community-based
response to the most vulnerable people in areas where unmet needs are the greatest.
Last week, CWS launched extensive recovery efforts in the wake of the storms and flooding in California and Florida, drawing on already existing interreligious networks and developing new faith-based organizations to distribute aid, coordinate volunteers and help the poorest and most vulnerable people with emergency and long-term assistance.
In recent months, CWS has responded to El Niņo-related disasters in East Africa, Mexico and Latin America with blankets, food, medicine and aid for the reconstruction of homes and the reinforcement of river banks.
"The many ways we have been responding to the crippling weather caused by El Niņo, from our 'El Niņo preparedness' appeal in September 1997 to our targeted appeals of recent months in Somalia, Mexico, Latin America and the U.S., reveal our philosophy better than any statement could," said the Rev. Dr. Rodney Page, Executive Director of CWS.
"We focus on vulnerable and isolated people, whose needs often go unmet," said Rick Augsburger, Director of the CWS Emergency Response Office. "We also focus on the community level, by working with partner agencies." The CWS response to Hurricane Pauline in Mexico is a good example of these emphases, Mr. Augsburger said. "We sought $300,000 to help the rural, and primarily indigenous, communities in the region, especially those in isolated areas who were being neglected by other international aid agencies," he said. "CWS Regional Representative Samuel Lobato is working with the Catholic Archdiocese, indigenous organizations such as the Guerrense Council, and the local NGO network to supply food, reconstruction materials, tools and transport."
Other CWS efforts in response to El Niņo include:
CWS Emergency Response Office staff and consultants agree that El Niņo will continue to cause devastation in coming months, increasing the need for disaster mitigation in vulnerable regions. "A disaster of this severity and this long-lasting can be a real strain on resources," Mr. Augsburger said, "so we will be emphasizing training and preparedness to get the most from our resources."
For more information about the aforementioned areas and the effects of El Niņo, contact CWS Emergency Response at 212-870-3151 or via e-mail CWS_DROFFICE@ecunet.org Updated information can also be found on the CWS internet web site: /CWS/emre
Writer: Wendy S. McDowell
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