Church responds as severe flooding hits Sri Lanka

1 June 2017

ACT member NCCSL responded to the floods in Sri Lanka with humanitarian aid. Credit: ACT/NCCSL/Terrence Satkunanayagam

Over 200 people have been killed and over 100 are missing after Cyclone Mora hit Sri Lanka causing severe flooding. The extreme weather has displaced nearly half a million people, and triggered landslides throughout the country. The rains are the worst to hit Sri Lanka since 2003 and come after two months of drought.

The Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) have reported on the mobilisation efforts of the local church. In the article they report that the social responsibility co-ordinator for the Church of Ceylon’s Diocese of Colombo, Binnu Jeevarajan said that churches were providing meals and temporary shelter for those affected by the disaster.

Jeevarajan said, “We appeal to the churches to pray for those affected by the rising waters and the floods in various parts of Sri Lanka. Some of our churches and many of our parishioners have been affected along with many others from all communities.”

He called on clergy to “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. We need you! Be prepared to help!”

The government have deployed 2,000 military personnel to affected areas but there are limited resources, and many are without food, shelter and clothing.

Nagulan Nesiah, Senior Programme Officer with Episcopal Relief & Development, who is working in Sri Lanka, said, “Sri Lanka has not seen a flood this severe in over 15 years. With the flood waters slowly subsiding, the relief and recovery phases will be long. Episcopal Relief & Development’s partner, the Diocese of Colombo has already mobilized local resources and parish communities to respond.”

“The diocese is distributing essential relief needs through church networks to the most affected. It is also addressing flooding in several churches and diocesan properties. Previously, the diocese had formed and trained regional Disaster Teams, and these teams are assessing evolving humanitarian needs and developing plans for a long-term engagement in affected communities,” ​Nagulan added.

The disaster response ‘task force’ team, set up by the churches of the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL), are linked with government authorities to provide relief and recovery operations. They are also providing cooked food to displaced communities.

The Anglican Alliance has reached out to the Church in Sri Lanka to learn more about the situation and to offer prayers and solidarity. The Bishop of Colombo, the Right Revd Dhiloraj Ranjit Canagasabey, has welcomed the Alliance’s contact. “Thank you for your willingness to assist us in any way you can,” he said.

The Anglican Alliance will work with the Church of Ceylon to help convene support from around the Communion as the Church shapes its response to communities impacted by the disaster. The Alliance will post further information on the response in the coming days.