Methodists in war-torn Sri Lanka appeal for help

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

Reports from the President of the Methodist Church in Sri Lankahave revealed the extent of the devastation. Rev Ebenezer Josephsaid that 95 per cent of the seven congregations in the Wanniregion had been trapped in an area now under control of theLiberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

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

All seven Methodist Churches in the region have been displaced, butrelief work has continued. The Methodist Church in Britain calledfor people to use day 19 of the Methodist Prayer Handbook to prayfor an end to people's suffering in war-torn, northern SriLanka.

Rev Joseph said: "The conditions for the ordinary civilians arevery, very difficult. We also extend relief to those families whohave managed to come out of the Wanni and who are now in variouscamps in the Mannar and Vavuniya areas and the JaffnaPeninsula.

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

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

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