Pope sends aid to those hit by disasters in Haiti, Bangladesh, Vietnam

Kettney Francois poses outside the remains of St. Famille du Toirac church in Toirac, Haiti, Aug. 16, 2021. Francois was trampled in a frantic stampede of people trying to escape after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit during a funeral Mass at the church. (CNS photo/Laura Gottesdiener, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will be sending nearly a quarter of a million dollars to help people in Haiti, who are struggling in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake during a global pandemic.

The Vatican's Dicastery for Integral Human Development said in a communique released Aug. 24 that the pope had decided to send "an initial contribution" of $235,000 (200,000 euros) to assist the earthquake victims during this "emergency phase," following the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck Haiti Aug. 14.

At least 2,200 people died, more than 12,000 others were  injured and nearly 53,000 houses destroyed, according to local authorities.

The donation is meant to be "an immediate expression” of Pope Francis' "feeling of spiritual closeness and paternal encouragement" for the people there.

The money will be distributed -- in collaboration with the Vatican's nunciature in Haiti -- to those dioceses most affected by the disaster, the dicastery said. It will add to the aid being sent throughout the Catholic Church thanks to efforts led by bishops' conferences and numerous charitable organizations.

The dicastery said the pope had also decided to send an initial emergency contribution of about $69,000 to the people of Bangladesh, who were hit by Cyclone Yaas in May. Tidal waves flooded coastal settlements and damaged homes, dikes and crops. The saline sea water contaminated ponds and drinking water sources.

The pope was also sending about $120,000 to the people of Vietnam, who are facing serious difficulties because of the COVID-19 pandemic.