Nepalese victims need our help
The weekend earthquake in Nepal has claimed more than 2,500 lives, and this horrific figure will almost certainly rise as rescue workers search through the rubble, with the likelihood of more victims being found and added to the increasing toll.
In a crisis of such magnitude it is difficult for many of us to grasp the degree of suffering involved in a country so far away, despite the immediacy of the television pictures.
However, the people most affected are the relatives of those who died or were injured, and in today's paper we highlight the distress of a Nepalese family in Northern Ireland who have lost a loved one.
The uncle of Jayanti Chudal was struck on the head by a brick, and later died in hospital. Mrs Chudal graphically described the chaos when she said: "In fact there was no hospital when they took my uncle there. It had also been hit by the earthquake, and people were being treated on the ground outside."
The loss suffered by Mrs Chudal, her husband Bikash and their teenage daughters who live in Dunmurry has been made all the worse by the sheer distance from their loved ones in Nepal. We also think of others in the Nepalese community here who are waiting to hear the news about their relatives.
Already the Chudal family and their friends from Nepal have formed a committee to raise funds to help those in need in their native country, and without doubt many people here will support them in every way that is possible.
Northern Ireland has a good record for generosity through regular donations to charities, and also in providing funds to bring help in the aftermath of major disasters.
This generosity is partly due to our sympathetic understanding of people who are suffering painful loss, because this has been part of our own tragic experience during the many years of the Troubles.
Despite our immersion in such local confrontation for so long, there has always been an awareness that in material and community terms we are so much more fortunate than others in countries where there is such need, and this natural concern is reflected in our giving to many different causes.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Nepal and the relatives in our midst, and our sympathy can also be expressed by our practical generosity. This is a time for action as well as words.