Update on Sri Lanka floods: Diocese of Colombo responds

6 June 2017

The cyclone particularly affected communities in southern and western Sri Lanka

The Church of Ceylon is on the frontline of the response after severe flooding hit Sri Lanka last week. Over 200 people have been killed and over 600,000 people are now displaced by the widespread flooding and frequent mudslides. The Diocese of Colombo are working tirelessly to reach out to those affected, and mobilising volunteers to provide food, clothing and shelter.

In a recent update the diocese said, “Simply every single person is concerned and is getting together to help in some way or the other… All our churches and parish halls in the affected areas have been opened out for people to come in and they are looked after.  In many places clergy have joined with other religious leaders in the affected areas to minister to the people together.”

“We are spreading all over the island and our clergy and laity [who] are themselves victims and survivors are working around the clock to rescue people trapped in their homes, to take food to those who have chosen to stay on the roof rather than leave and also those who have been marooned. Groups of volunteers have worked hard to bring into safe spaces those whose homes have been reduced to crumble in landslides or submerged in mud and water – and to feed, clothe and look after them.”

The Board of Social Responsibility of the Diocese has had training on disaster management, and have been gathering and sharing information to mobilise aid. Donated relief items are quickly sorted and distributed to the most affected areas.

However, medicines and relief supplies are still desperately needed. In Baddegama there is urgent need for a medical camp, “given the threat of ‘rat fever’ and other diseases,” the diocese said. And in Ratnapura, drinking water has been contaminated by the flood water and the diocese is working to secure funds to hire water pumps and clear the springs.

The diocese has been calling on the worldwide Anglican Communion to join them in prayer. Binnu Jeevarajan, the coordinator of the Board of Social Responsibility, said, “We appeal to the churches to pray for those affected by the rising waters and the floods in various parts of Sri Lanka.”

Vijula Arulanantham, a member of the International Anglican Women’s Network (IAWN) in Sri Lanka, said, “We appreciate your continued prayers for the rains to abate, flood waters to recede, water borne diseases to be curbed, relief efforts, the bereaved, injured, homeless and rebuilding.” Members of IAWN had reached at early on to their sisters in Sri Lanka to offer solidarity.

The Anglican Alliance is working with the Church in Ceylon to connect them with the wider Communion as they continue to respond. You can stay up to date with the work of the Diocese of Colombo by checking their website and following them on Facebook.

The Anglican Alliance has agreed with the Bishop of Colombo, the Rt Revd Dhiloraj Ranjit Canagasabey, to convene a conference call in the coming days so that partners around the Communion can hear directly from their brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka.

Episcopal Relief & Development has already connected with the Church. Support for the Church of Ceylon can be given via their website.

Anglican Board of Mission has launched an appeal for the response in Sri Lanka.

Other Anglican agencies, including USPG has also contributed to the Church of Ceylon’s relief work.

Please hold the churches and people in Sri Lanka in your prayers as they begin the process of recovery and healing from this terrible disaster.

In the photos: The southern hills of Sri Lanka where the cyclone struck. © Anglican Alliance

Diocesan staff visit affected communities. © Diocese of Colombo