Vatican City, Apr 12, 2019 / 10:09 am (CNA).- In the wake of massive flooding in Iran, Pope Francis has sent 100,000 euros (about $113,000) for emergency aid.
The money, sent through the Vatican’s office for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, is intended as “an immediate expression of the feeling of spiritual closeness on the part of the Holy Father towards the affected people and territories,” according to an April 12 press release.
The donation will be distributed through the local nunciature and go toward relief work and assistance.
Large parts of Iran have experienced major flash flooding over the past month. In the last two weeks of March, the country, which had been suffering from a drought, was hit by three torrential rainfalls, which caused the floods.
At least 1,070 injuries and more than 77 deaths have been recorded and more than 200,000 people evacuated from their homes and towns. Damages are estimated to total between $1 and $3.6 billion.
One of the worst-hit provinces, Golestan, experienced 70% of its usual annual rainfall in just a single day.
The regional director for the International Red Cross/Red Crescent said April 3: “Iran is under water. This is an unprecedented crisis that has now touched at least 23 of Iran’s 31 provinces. While the precise impact is still to be seen, it is already very clear that the floods have caused extensive damage and suffering in villages, cities and rural areas.”
The Vatican press release noted the aid work in progress, coordinated by the Iranian Red Crescent Society and the United Nations office in Tehran, along with Caritas Iran, which visited the affected areas and is “doing its utmost to bring aid to the people.”
The pope also sent his condolences to the country through Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin at the end of March, saying he “was saddened to learn of the loss of life, injury and damage caused by floods afflicting various regions of Iran.”
“His Holiness commends the souls of the deceased to the love of the Merciful One, and invokes divine blessings of consolation and strength on those who grieve,” the telegram said. “Praying for the emergency personnel and all the efforts to provide relief, he entrusts the people of Iran to the providence of the Almighty.”