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Pakistan Bishops Deliver Aid to Flood Victims

KHAN BELA, Pakistan (27 August  2010) --Catholic and Protestant leaders in Pakistan have joined forces to deliver in person much needed aid supplies to flood victims.

Bishop Andrew Francis of Multan and Anglican Bishop Alexander John Malik of Lahore led a convoy containing food items and bottled water on Aug. 26 to the southern Punjab where five districts lie submerged under flood waters.

Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti also joined the convoy with an additional six trucks of relief items.

The Christian leaders began their mercy mission with a prayer at the Cathedral of the Holy Redeemer, Multan before traveling 190 kilometers to a camp for survivors in Khan Bela.

"This is our diocese. We have seen death with our own eyes in visits to flood hit areas. We came through these deadly waters to bring you food and show you that we care," Bishop Francis told flood victims on their arrival.

"We are all Pakistanis and stand together amid this crisis," Bishop Malik said.

The two bishops then went among the many tents to give out relief packages to survivors.

Several survivors shared harrowing stories of personal loss.

Muhammad Ashraf lost his 18-year-old son.

"He was returning from work when a giant wave took him. A woman saw him struggling in the water but he quickly disappeared," Ashraf said.

"Do not be afraid, thank God you are saved", Bishop Francis told a group of young children.

Earlier, Caritas Pakistan Multan CPM provided treatment for the sick at an aid station and managed to distribute tents to survivors cut off by three-meter high flood waters.

"We are coordinating our work with the army. Soldiers are helping us access areas where relief is most needed," said Izhaque Bulanda CPM disaster management coordinator. (UCAN)