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Sri Lanka: churches swing into action after cyclone kills 200

09 June 2017

Diocese of Colombo

Submerged: flooding in Sri Lanka

Submerged: flooding in Sri Lanka

THE CHURCH of Ceylon has appealed for urgent aid after devastating flooding caused by Cyclone Mora in Sri Lanka killed more than 200 people.

The cyclone has led to days of extremely heavy rain hitting the southern part of the island, which, in turn, has caused flooding and landslides. The country’s disaster management centre has confirmed that 202 people have died so far.

The Board of Social Responsibility for the Church’s diocese of Colombo immediately swept into action, setting up an operations centre, gathering supplies, and sending teams to the worst-affected areas.

The social responsibility coordinator for the diocese, Binnu Jeevarajan, said that clergy needed to gather parishioners who were able to collect aid supplies and help

in disaster recovery.

“Keep your churches and parish halls arranged, and on standby, to accept displaced people if you are in the vicinity of an area that may be affected,” Mr Jeevarajan said. “We need you — be prepared to help.”

No churches were damaged by the flooding or landslides, and many are being used as ad hoc local relief centres. A diocesan statement said that, in some areas, churches had provided food, water, candles, and sleeping mats to people who had lost their homes in the disaster.

The diocese said, however, that urgent supplies were needed: in the Matara region, dry rations and cook ing utensils for 500 families were required; and in Baddegama, a clean and sanitary medical camp was a priority to prevent the spread of diseases in the aftermath of the carnage caused by the cyclone.

In Ratnapura, the diocese is appealing for donations so that it can hire water pumps to allow locals to pump out the wells and springs which have become contaminated with dirty floodwaters.

“Donations have been coming in from our churches around Colombo, and partners in the world Church,” the diocese’s statement said. “We are very grateful for their generosity.

We are also aware that churches and most of our parishioners are helping each other independently, and praise God for the beautiful relationships that have been nurtured over time which facilitate such support in a time of crisis.”

The director of the aid agency Anglican Alliance, Rachel Carnegie, told the Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) that she had already been in touch with the Church of Ceylon to offer “prayers and solidarity”, and was now co-ordinating offers of help from Anglican Provinces around the world.

Cyclone Mora has now moved on to strike Myanmar (Burma) and Bangladesh. The UN has issued an urgent appeal for help for hundreds of thousands of people affected by the storm — food, shelter materials, drinking water, and latrines are the priorities, a spokesman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said.

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