In a letter to national and international partners, the Bishop of the Diocese of Amritsar, The Most Rev. P. K. Samantaroy has outlined the impacts of the national 21-day lockdown in India and how the Church of North India (CNI) is responding to the COVID-19 crisis.
As of the morning of 30 March 2020, over 700,000 people worldwide have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and 34,000 people have died due to the virus. The staggering numbers are rising every minute.
Not only has the pandemic brought illness and death for many, but preventive measures like curfews and lockdowns are posing other humanitarian concerns such as loss of livelihood, hunger and starvation.
“I fear that hunger may kill many like us before Coronavirus,” said a street vendor in Delhi. His fear and desperation are shared by the majority of the country’s poor who have been the most hit due to the current 21-day nationwide lockdown in India. Most people who work as daily wage labourers live hand-to-mouth and are therefore unable to afford buying food and medical supplies in advance. In Punjab, we are already receiving reports of riot-like situations in the villages.
Realising the urgency of the situation, the Diocese of Amritsar has already constituted a COVID-19 Relief Operation to reach out to the poor and needy. We are working closely with the local congregations and our project workers, as well as the district administration, to identify those in dire need. Food material is being mobilised through local grocery stores and distributed at key centres in Amritsar and the surrounding border villages.
The Church cannot see its people die either of Coronavirus or hunger. I urge you to support this relief effort generously through whatever means is available to you.”
Unless we act urgently and support the weaker sections of society, our world will collapse under the siege of this pandemic. Your help in this hour of need can save a family from hunger, starvation and illness.
May God bless you and keep you safe!
The Most Rev. P. K. Samantaroy
Bishop, Diocese of Amritsar, CNI
The Church of North India is running a domestic appeal for funds and in-kind donations of food supplies, and has also asked for international assistance. UnitingWorld has diverted India project funds for this quarter to support their emergency response and will continue to do this into the new financial year on an ongoing basis until the crisis is over.
Key activities for the COVID-19 relief effort:
- Providing food packages to families connected to CNI’s community development projects, especially for daily wage laborers who are now unable to work.
- Helping to amplify government messaging on COVID-19, including health and handwashing awareness, prevention measures and information on how and when to get tested.
- Conducting door-to-door visits (while practicing spatial distancing) to families connected to the project, to ensure they have what they need during lock down.
Please pray for our church partners and support the relief effort as you are able.
UnitingWorld is the international aid and partnerships agency of the Uniting Church in Australia, collaborating for a world free from poverty and injustice. Click here to support our work.