Catholic Entity Reaches Out to Flood Victims in Rwanda in “a very safe, dignified way”

Trócaire and Caritas Nyundo responded to devastating floods which took the lives of 131 people and displaced almost 6,000 families in serious flooding in northern and western Rwanda last week. Credit: Trócaire

Trócaire, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Bishops of Ireland, has reached out to victims of floods in a Rwandan Catholic Diocese in a grant to Caritas, implemented through cash transfers.

In a report published Friday, May 12, the country Director of Trócaire in Rwanda who shares about the response of the Irish Catholic entity to the “devastating rains” in the Catholic Diocese of Nyundo describes the cash transfers as “a very safe and dignified way of supporting families in need”.

“Trócaire put in place an emergency support of €20,000 which the Caritas Nyundo team used to support their response work,” Marleen Levina Masclee has been quoted as saying. 

Ms. Levina explains the cash transfers to beneficiaries, saying, “The money was also used to provide over 1,000 people with cash sent directly into mobile accounts, a very safe and dignified way of supporting families in need. Families used the cash grants for clothes, additional food, medical care and other needs which are really high.”

The floods and landslides following the torrential rains that swept through the Northern, Western, and Southern Provinces of Rwanda reportedly resulted in the death of dozens, Rwanda’s New Times newspaper having reported a revised death toll of 131 people on May 6, “as the search for the missing person continues”.


“This could be the highest disaster-induced death toll to be recorded in the country in the shortest period according to available records from recent years,” the government-backed New Times newspaper had reported on May 3, when the death toll was “at least 109 people”.

In a telegram of condolences addressed to the Apostolic Nuncio in Rwanda, Archbishop Arnaldo Sanchez Catalan, Pope Francis expressed his “spiritual closeness” to the people of God in Rwanda following the torrential rains during the night of May 2-3.

The Holy Father “has received with deep sadness the news of the loss of human life and destruction caused by the recent floods in the western and northern provinces of Rwanda," the telegram that was signed by the Secretary of State, Pietro Cardinal Parolin, read in part.

The Holy Father invoked his “blessings of strength and peace” upon all those affected by the floods and landslides, and offered the assurance of his prayers "for the deceased, wounded and displaced, as well as for those involved in recovery efforts."

In the report published May 12 by reliefweb, the country Director of Trócaire in Rwanda looks back at the beginning of Trócaire intervention.

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She says, “Immediately after news broke about the flooding, we contacted our partner on the ground, Caritas Nyundo. Its Director, Father Jean Paul Rutakisha, informed us that aside from the enormous damage to people’s homes and lands, the Diocese itself also suffered hugely from the mud streams and water that reached up to one and a half meters high.”

The Kigali-based Trócaire official says she was notified about the safety efforts of “close to 400 students and 40 priests” at the Minor Seminary of Nyundo, and adds, “All of them managed to get to safety, although some had to escape onto rooftops in order not to be washed away by the fierce mud streams.”

“Miraculously, containers of rice and beans were not destroyed, and Caritas Nyundo immediately swung into action getting people to safe areas, bringing the injured to hospital, and providing food for those that lost everything,” the Dutch national recounts.

She goes on to recount her own experience in Nyundo Diocese “a week after the floods”.

“It was like they only happened yesterday. Caritas Nyundo staff and a hundred or so neighboring parishioners were fervently cleaning, removing mud and dirt and trying to save what they could,” Ms. Levina says. 


She continues, “Sadly, all laptops, printers, books, archives and vehicles were damaged and no longer usable. It was a sad sight.”

“As I walked around the Diocese grounds, it started to rain again. I saw the clouds over the mountains and am wondering whether more is coming our way,” Ms. Levina recounts.

The Trócaire official further says in the May 12 report, “It is one week since heavy rain flooded part of Rwanda’s western and northern provinces, and a huge clean-up operation is underway.”

She adds the Rwandan government in collaboration with the Ministry in charge of Emergency Management (MINEMA) is already taking strong measures that involve reaching out to the victims of the floods.

“All those in need of support are being welcomed into settlements and receiving hot meals, healthcare, mattresses, blankets, and hygiene items,” Ms. Levina says, and adds, “Plans are being put in place to relocate families to safe areas away from their high-risk zones because there is a chance that the floods might happen again.”

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