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Tidal Wave Disaster in Sri Lanka
The Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera
CEYLON 050101-1
January 1, 2005

Communique from the Bishop of Colombo

[The Church of Ceylon (E-P) - Ceylon] A disaster of unprecedented proportion hit Sri Lanka on the morning of Sunday 26th December. The tidal wave Tsunami left a trail of destruction in many countries of South Asia but Sri Lanka appears to have been the worst affected. As I write this, nearly 22,000 persons have been confirmed dead. Several more are still reported missing and the numbers of dead keep rising each new day. Many of the dead are the elderly and young children. Over 2,500,000 persons have been displaced from their homes. The destruction to property is inestimable. Whole villages have been wiped out. All this came close on the heels of major floods and earthslips that occurred in the same affected areas only a few weeks ago. The North-Eastern and the Southern coastal areas of the country have borne the brunt of the disaster. Apart from the physical destruction, the people are in a state of trauma and shock. These are the many challenges that confront us now.

Teams from our Church and the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka are visiting all the affected areas to take stock, assess the real needs and provide relief. I myself have already visited the Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts in the East where I saw the huge destruction that had taken place. Tomorrow, I visit the Galle, Matara and Hambantota districts in the South. We were able to provide some immediate relief in the form of dry rations for cooking, sleeping mats, basic medical supplies, baby milk powder, drinking water and cooking utensils. These visits are also an act of solidarity with both the affected of all ethnic groups and faiths as well as the many clergy and lay persons who are actively involved in providing comfort and relief to the displaced.

Our needs are enormous. Thanks to the overwhelming response we have had locally, we are able to provide some immediate relief. This will have to continue for at least six months as houses have to be rebuilt for most of the affected. There is also a need for para-medical and trauma counselling personnel who can assist local voluntary efforts. It is long-term rehabilitation rebuilding houses, providing the wherewithal for economic livelihood (replacing destroyed fishing boats, restoring farmlands together with inputs for farming, rehabilitating small businesses, etc) - that is going to be the biggest challenge.

I should therefore like to appeal to our friends and partners to support us with whatever financial assistance that is possible for this work. Funds can be transferred to the account of the Bishop of Colombo Account Number 01-102324101 with Standard Chartered Bank, Fort Branch, Colombo (SWIFT Address: SCBLLKLX). For those who prefer to provide material assistance (tarpaulin tents, light roofing sheets, other building materials, etc), kindly contact us and we shall let you know our needs. We also ask for your prayers for all those affected by this tragedy and for all involved in providing assistance. If you require any clarification or further information, please feel free to contact Lanka or Ruwanthi my office.

I may also update you on the position of our own Church. None of our clergy and workers have lost their lives, though many are still suffering from shock and have suffered loss of property in varying degrees. One of our Vicarages has been completely destroyed; some churches, vicarages and church property have suffered lesser damage.

Some of you may already have received a communication from our Diocesan Secretary. Many of you have called or emailed us with messages of solidarity, support and assurance of prayers. We are grateful and apologise if we are not able to acknowledge individually. Please feel free to share this with other friends of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan Church.

+ Duleep de Chickera
Bishop of Colombo

The Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera,
Bishop of Colombo,
368 Bauddhaloka Mawatha,
Colombo 00700,
Sri Lanka.
Telephone: +9411-2684810
Fax: +9411- 2684811
e-mail: bishop@eureka.lk