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Lutheran Disaster Response

Colombia: LWF Update on Floods and Conflict

Colombia has had more than its fair share of rain this year. This has also been a region-wide issue with Colombia’s neighbors to the north in Central America (Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala) and southern Mexico, also being it by over 10 days of heavy rain in October. This led to widespread flooding and mudslides. One of the major effects was that much of the year-end harvest and seedlings for next year’s planting were destroyed.

A Lutheran World Federation (LWF) blog posts about Colombia gives an update on how the initial emergency relief work has finished up there. The response was made more difficult because of the armed conflict that has been ongoing for 20 years between guerrillas, paramilitaries and the army in the Choco district of the country. This means that for many in the region it is not safe to venture far from their village. This in a district that is home to some of the hardest hit and poorest people in the country.

To help meet the need the LWF was part of an immediate relief effort to deliver 200 food kits to the hardest hit families in the region. They also helped distribute seeds for subsistence crops to help restore food security. This is particularly important for the indigenous populations subsist off of exchanging food.

You can find the full post here: Food, seeds and hope in the ACT Colombia flood response

Also, check out the ACT Alliance overpage Colombia: Conflicts and Floods to see pictures and a video of situation.

To learn more about the ELCA response in Central America see the ELCA Disaster webpage Central America Flooding.

Gifts to ELCA International Disaster Response allow the church to respond globally in times of need. Donate now.

Colombia: And Still the Rains Come

Colombians evacuating their homes as the flood waters rise.

I had the pleasure yesterday of sitting with Bishop Eduardo Martinez of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia (IELCO) to gain his perspective on what has been happening in his country. Here is a bit of what we covered:

The major point relayed by the bishop is that the situation in Colombia is worsening. With reports that the rains last month were equal to the annual rainfall of Colombia and the excessive rains over the past year, many have been left without access to housing or food as they are forced from their homes by the rising waters and left incapable of harvesting the sustenance crops they live on. There are also dangers for people as the move onto higher ground as mudslides have become more common. This all would be a crisis enough on its own, but with somewhere between 3.5 and 5 million people already listed as IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) within the country these new additions have begun to overwhelm aid agencies.

With this new situation the government has been calling on the churches to lend a helping hand. The bishop described how the IELCO is historically been focused on responding to the humanitarian crisis but with this new situation they are finding way to build on this work to address the humanitarian concerns of disaster response and development. To this end they are working on a proposal for the Latin American Council of Churches, ACT Alliance and ELCA to help meet the growing needs of the people.

The bishop also attended the synod assembly of the Southeast Synod of Minnesota and will attend the assembly of the South Carolina Synod, both of whom have companion synod relationships with IELCO. His hope is to share the story of his people so that their brothers and sisters in the ELCA may know of their situation.

Please pray for Bishop Martinez, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia and all Colombians that the spirit of Christ may sustain them through this time of crisis and the Easter message of life from death, creation from destruction, may continue to give them hope.

Gifts to ELCA International Disaster Response allow the church to respond globally in times of need. Donate now.