BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (CNS) — Caritas Argentina has asked for donations as it responds to devastating wildfires in the country’s northeast, an ecological disaster church officials attribute to environmental degradation.
Fires in the province of Corrientes had charred nearly 2 million acres of land for grazing and agriculture, along with wetlands in Iberá National Park and Iberá Wetlands, according to Argentine media.
The fires came as the region suffers intense heat and drought, which has dragged on for more than two years.
“Who is responsible for so much destruction and who is responsible for the delay in the response?” Caritas asked in a Feb. 24 statement.
“It makes our blood boil knowing that many of these situations could be avoided if we were more careful in environmental preservation and in forecasting the investment of public funds for effective firefighting.”
“We are part of the whole of a people who are pained to see brothers who abandon their homes, lose their belongings, and see what is sown and worked in the fields burn. We are also overwhelmed by sadness and impotence when we see animals, species and ecosystems destroyed by fire: The ecological emergency is added to the humanitarian emergency.”
Caritas agencies in the Diocese of Santo Tomé and the Archdiocese of Corrientes have organized collections and offered assistance to impacted populations. The region is known for growing rice, citrus and yerba mate, an infusion popular with Argentines.
Fires have burned in Corrientes and parts of neighboring Misiones province throughout February, though recent rainfall offered some relief amid temperatures topping 100 degrees.
The Archdiocese of Corrientes organized a tour of its patroness, Our Lady of Itatí, to the hardest-hit areas, including parishes, firehalls and hospitals.
“Due to the deep Marian devotion of the people of Corrientes, the Virgin’s visits will try in some way to make their children feel the protection of the tender mother, bringing her closer to those places where the fires are not ceasing,” said a statement from the archdiocese.