Church groups and parishes in Malaysia have been in the forefront of relief distribution in communities most affected by the flooding that hit the country since last month.
As the new year starts, thousands more people fled their homes after heavy rains exacerbated flooding in eight Malaysian states, displacing over 125,000 people since mid-December.
Caritas Malaysia, the social action arm of the Catholic Church in the country, coordinated with parishes and dioceses, to open relief centers and distribute food and basic necessities to flood victims.
Volunteers from Basic Ecclesial Communities cooked and distributed hot meals to those in shelters, said a Caritas report received by LiCAS.news on Wednesday, January 12.
“There was a great outpouring of solidarity among Malaysians of all walks of life,” read the report.
“The spirit of ‘being Malaysian’ was most visible during this crisis when young and old of all races and religions went out of their way to help, to volunteer their time and energy for days,” it added.
The report noted that “traditional boundaries of apprehension were won over by the compassion, respect and care” shown by Malaysians to each other.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Malaysia and Caritas have earlier launched a “National Relief Fund” that will run until January 22 to sustain the Church’s flood relief efforts.
The organization also activated an ad-hoc Disaster Relief Response group that will share relief information and maintain close coordination with parishes and volunteers.
Earlier, Malaysia’s National Disaster Management Agency said the weeks-long bad weather caused water levels to rise in at least five states.
At least 54 people have been reported killed by the floods, with at least two others missing.
The tropical Southeast Asian nation often faces stormy weather around the year’s end, with seasonal flooding regularly causing mass evacuations.
But authorities have been taken by surprise by the days of constant rain that began on December 17, causing rivers to overflow and inundating cities.
Malaysia’s richest state of Selangor — the country’s commercial hub — has been among the worst-hit.
About 117,700 of those evacuated since mid-December have returned to their homes, although nearly 10,000 people in five states on the country’s peninsular and in Sabah state on Borneo island have sought refuge in relief centers. – with a report from Agence France Presse