Methodists in war-torn Sri Lanka appeal for help

As fighting in Sri Lanka reached a climax this month, The Methodist Church in Britain has urged people to pray for hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians.

Reports from the President of the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka have revealed the extent of the devastation. Rev Ebenezer Joseph said that 95 per cent of the seven congregations in the Wanni region had been trapped in an area now under control of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

"The Methodist Church of Sri Lanka has received reports of civilian causalities in the Mullaitivu District, which seems to take place even in areas disclosed as 'safety zones'," said Rev Joseph. "Therefore, we appeal to the Government of Sri Lanka to take all measures to prevent civilian causalities in the present military campaign. We appeal to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to allow free movement of civilians to safer areas without forcibly detaining them or using them as human shields. "We make this appeal to both warring parties purely on humanitarian grounds keeping the innocent civilians foremost in mind."

All seven Methodist Churches in the region have been displaced, but relief work has continued. The Methodist Church in Britain called for people to use day 19 of the Methodist Prayer Handbook to pray for an end to people's suffering in war-torn, northern Sri Lanka.

Rev Joseph said: "The conditions for the ordinary civilians are very, very difficult. We also extend relief to those families who have managed to come out of the Wanni and who are now in various camps in the Mannar and Vavuniya areas and the Jaffna Peninsula.

"We also need to be ready to reconstruct the Churches and help with settlement of the people once the people are allowed to return back to their dwellings in the cleaned areas."

Further aid from the Fund For World Mission, which gave £20,000 in October, will be sent out to the Church to help people rebuild their homes and their lives.

Anyone wishing to donate to the Fund For World Mission's aid relief to Sri Lanka can do so online at the World Church page www.methodist.org.uk http://www.methodist.org.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=opentoworld.content&cmid=1492 or contact Steve Pearce, Partnership Coordinator for Asia and the Pacific, at the Fund For World Mission on 020 7467 5161 or via email pearces@methodistchurch.org.uk

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