Bolivia: Pope's Donation Put to Work

President Morales Declares National Disaster

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TRINIDAD, Bolivia, FEB. 15, 2008 (<A href="http://www.zenit.org">Zenit.org</A>).- Caritas workers in Trinidad are putting a donation from Benedict XVI to good use, offering emergency aid for flood victims in the west-central South American country.



Bolivia and its neighbors have been facing rains for months due to the La Niña phenomenon, when the sea surface temperatures of the Pacific are cooler. Bolivian President Evo Morales declared the situation a national disaster on Tuesday.

Benedict XVI, following his own encouragement in his Lenten message on almsgiving, donated some $50,000 to the relief effort through the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. The money is being used in Trinidad, as well as in La Paz, Potosi and Cochabamba.

Archbishop Tito Solari of Cochabamba, posted a Spanish-language YouTube <A href="http://www.infodecom.com/Manager.php?var=4269">video</A> to draw attention to the crisis being faced.

The harm caused in Bolivia by La Niña will keep the country in a situation of disaster for many months. In the city of Trinidad, with a population of 100,000, Monday saw 14 hours of continual rain, with waters spilling over the dam.

According to the Fides news agency, local Caritas agencies are working providing help to the most needy. Local Caritas director Maria Esther Chiriqui said that the aid agency is helping with things as simple as supporting the families who have nowhere to cook a meal from their makeshift tent residencies.

Flooding across Bolivia's eastern lowlands has killed more than 50 people and affected some 43,000 families since November, according to Bolivian officials.