ACNS 3930 | SOUTH ASIA | 10 JANUARY 2005
Sri Lanka and India give thanks for Tsunami relief, Nicobar Diocese fights for survival
By Michael Craske
A communiqué from the Church of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) has set out the challenges the Church faces in overcoming the devastation caused by the Asian Tsunami disaster two weeks ago. It has also praised the level of support and aid received and stressed the need for continued assistance (both material and spiritual) from the worldwide Anglican Communion and the international community.
The news update from the Diocese of Colombo - part of the two-diocese Church of Ceylon, which is extra-provincial to the Archbishop of Canterbury - highlights the latest statistics. As of 8 January, 30,718 people are known to have died, with one district alone losing 50 per cent of its children. Some 4,900 are still missing and 515,234 are now homeless.
The update states that the Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera, the Bishop of Colombo, has travelled to the affected areas - including areas controlled by the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam). The church's parishes and communities have come together, it adds, utilizing reliable state agencies. In addition, the diocese has set up a Relief and Rehabilitation desk to co-ordinate work. "Bishop Duleep personally oversees the work," it says, adding, "He, along with Roman Catholic Bishops and the Heads of the Churches of the National Christian Council recently met with President Chandrika Kumaratunga...this provided an opportunity for clarification, dialogue and co-operation."
The communiqué also provides a summary of relief programmes that are already underway, and emphasises that one of the most pressing needs is the clean up of the vast "unimaginable mass of debris", to which the Church has despatched 12-18-year old youth teams from across the country, who are concentrating on "destroyed schools and hospitals" as well as housing. Relief is also being distributed ecumenically, it states, according to local clergy and community needs. Church buildings are currently being used to house those directly affected.
The diocese has also asked that the Communion continue to pray for Sri Lanka and all those affected by the disaster, and to pray for clergy at all levels, as they are taking a leading role in the rehabilitation process. In addition, church leaders have underlined that food and clothing consignments are of lesser importance, with direct financial support encouraged instead. Those who wish to give support but prefer not to send money, can contact the diocesan office to gain an update on items that are in short supply (see below).
Funds can be transferred to the Diocese through the following account: Bishop of Colombo Account Number 01-102324101 with Standard Chartered Bank, Fort Branch, Colombo, Sri Lanka (SWIFT Address: SCBLLKLX)
In addition to the communiqué from Sri Lanka, the Church of North India (CNI) has also sent the Anglican Communion Office a letter stating that it has been overwhelmed by the response to its appeal for tsunami victims in the Diocese of the Andaman and Car Nicobar Islands. The Revd Enos Das Pradhan, the Church's provincial secretary, said that the responses had been "a great source of encouragement...as we have a gigantic task ahead of us to reconstruct a diocese, which has lost everything." The Andaman and Car Nicobar Islands, in the Indian Ocean, is one of the world's most remote areas.
The Revd Pradhan stated that a Disaster Management Committee had been set up with the Rt Revd PSP Raju, the Bishop of Calcutta, as Chairperson, and that the committee had been working day and night to oversee rescue and relief work in Port Blair and Car Nicobar. On 31 December, six relief workers arrived in Port Blair with 110 boxes of medicine, clothes, and dry food, with a second consignment arriving from Calcutta shortly afterwards. In addition, the Rt Revd PK Samantaroy, the Bishop of Amritsar, is currently camping in Port Blair, supervising the relief work. The CNI Disaster Management Committee has been allotted one of the largest camps in Port Blair, and is catering for some 2,000 people
The Church of North India is additionally running two relief camps in Car Nicobar for about 4,000. A camp requires a large number of items, including dry foods, tents/tarpaulins, medicine, mosquito nets, and cleaning materials.
Currently, the Bishop of the Andaman and Car Nicobar Islands, the Rt Revd Christopher Paul, is sheltering in a jungle relief camp at Chukchuka. All of the diocese's buildings have either been destroyed or are near collapse. The Bishop was able to get a hand-written note out to the Church's relief workers thanking all for their gratitude and help but appealing for further assistance.
All contributions for Tsunami victims in the Diocese of the Andaman and Car Nicobar Islands are to be sent to the following Bank account:
Church of North India Foreign Contribution Account
Saving Bank Account no. 13073
Indian Overseas Bank, F-47 Malhotra Building, Janpath, New Delhi 110 001
Swift Code no. IOB AIN BB 065
The following information has also been received from the Diocese of the Andaman and Car Nicobar Islands:
1. Harmander Bat at Hut Bay, Little Andamans
Church and residences have been destroyed.
2. Car Nicobar
Out of 15 villages, 12 villages have been washed away.
3. Chwra Island
The Church has been washed away and 70 per cent of the population is missing.
4. Terressa Island
Also 70 per cent of inhabitants missing.
5. Katchal Island
Ninety per cent of its inhabitants missing.
6. Nancowrey Island
Less damage compared with other islands.
7. Kondul, Pillowmillow, Pillobabi, Trinquet Islands
Seventy per cent of inhabitants missing and Church Buildings washed away.
8. Campbell Bay
Houses and the church building have been damaged.
Diocese of the Andaman and Car Nicobar Islands
Church of North India (United)
Church of Ceylon
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