02 December 2008

Methodist Church backs appeal to help thousands affected by flooding in Brazil

An international appeal to help thousands of people displaced by floods in Brazil has been backed by the Methodist Church in Britain.

Almost 80,000 people lost their homes and around 100 people lost their lives after a torrential downpour struck the coastal region of the southern Brazilian state of Santa Caterina last week.

Landslides swept away homes in some of the poorest, mountainous neighbourhoods in the region and nine towns have been blocked by the deluge.

Bishop João Carlos Lopes, the Bishop of the Methodist Church in Brazil, said: "It is a tragedy. We have never had a situation like this in this country. Some towns and communities are 70 per cent under water. The Brazilian people are very caring and everybody is trying to help. The main problem is that the poor people in Brazil do not have housing insurance. If you lose your house it is gone. We are concerned about the reconstruction once the water goes down. We are also worried as it looks like it may rain again."

Six Methodist Churches in the affected region have offered refuge to people left homeless. Pastors have also given shelter to displaced Brazilians as 25 per cent of homes in the area, particularly in the cities of Batangas and Balneario Camboriu, were devastated by the floods.

Rev Thomas Quenet, Partnership Coordinator for World Church Relationships, said: "I am concerned at what happens to the poorest people in countries like Brazil. Because Brazil is perceived as being a developed country, there is a danger that we will think the poorest in society will get be given greater assistance from others. Due to property price inflation, many of the poorest people in Brazil are forced to build homes on steep hillsides, which are most at risk from landslides. This is what has happened in the Valley of Iloilo.

"I would urge and encourage generous Methodist people to make a response to people who have lost their homes, their businesses and their livelihoods." Oseias Barbosa Da Silva, a Methodist Minister in Tewkesbury with links with the Methodist Church in Brazil, has been offering advice to the relief workers in Santa Caterina following his experience of the UK summer floods in 2007.

Anyone wishing to support the international appeal for help to the 80,000 people left homeless in Brazil should contact Tom at the Fund For World Mission on 020 7467 5160 or via email quenett@methodistchurch.org.uk.

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