Methodist Fund for World Mission donates £20,000 to help thousands displaced by violence in Sri Lanka

Action has been taken to help people displaced by fightingin Sri Lanka in the form of £20,000 Fund for World Missiongrant.

Nearly 200,000 residents in the Wanni region in the north of thecountry have been trapped by heavy shelling and aerial bombing asviolence has intensified over recent weeks.

Rev Ebenezer Joseph, President of the Methodist Church Sri Lanka,made contact with the staff in the World ChurchRelationships.

'Six of our congregations have been totally displaced and evenchurches have started vacating from the Kilinochchi town,' he said.'The movement of displacement is towards the east of Kilinochchi.The civilians are not allowed to cross over into areas controlledby security forces. All NGOs and the UN agencies have withdrawnfrom this area under the orders of the government. There is ashortage of essential items, fuel and medicines. There is also ashortage of cash. The churches are the only agencies doing somerelief work but under severe constraints.'

The Methodist Church in Sri Lanka has called on all its churchesto pray for people caught up in the displacement. In a statement,the Sri Lankan Methodist Church asked its members to donate oneday's wages and help in the search for volunteers to train ascounsellors. The statement also called for a strengthening ofchaplaincy work among the military and a continuation of communityand interfaith integration.

Revd Peter Pillinger visited Sri Lanka as a British MethodistChurch representative to the Sri Lankan Methodist Conference heldin Batticaloa in August. 'I was shocked by the conditions thepeople there live under,' he said. 'I have yet again been amazed bythe strength and the fortitude shown by the ministers, evangelists,workers and members who were returning to the north of the islandafter the conference.

'Perhaps most sad at present is the failure of the government tosee the need for more than a military victory. It seems not to seethe need to win the hearts and minds of the minority community. Theminority community, on their part, seem resigned to the fact thatthe situation is unlikely to get better.'

Steve Pearce, Partnership Coordinator for Asia and the Pacific,said: "I hope that our money will, along with the donations of SriLankan Methodists, enable the church to reach out hands offriendship to people who are being forced to leave their houses andtheir livelihoods and offer them food and shelter. 'I know,however, that the Sri Lankan Methodists will go further than thatand continue their prophetic work for peace by offering chaplaincywork to the military and building trust and integration withneighbours of all religions in their communities.'