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Church in Myanmar responds as floods engulf country

Posted on: August 6, 2015 5:59 PM
Photo Credit: Anglican Board of Mission - Australia
Related Categories: Abp Oo, Anglican Alliance, floods, Myanmar, relief

[Anglican Alliance] The Church of the Province of Myanmar (Burma) is gearing up for a second phase of assistance to communities engulfed by flood water following torrential rains last week, the Anglican Alliance has reported following conversations with members of the provincial relief team.

More than 250,000 people have been affected and 69 have died, said Myanmar’s Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement.

According to UN OCHA, massive floods and high winds have affected people across 12 states and regions in Myanmar, with continued rain and flood waters moving southward putting additional areas at risk of inundation.

Cyclone Komen struck Myanmar and other countries beginning on 30 July. The storm combined with heavy monsoon rains during July, resulting in flooding and landslides. It is feared that the flooding may increase as water washes down from mountainous parts of the country.

The newspaper Myanma Ahlin reported that water had risen above spillways at 40 dams across the country. Water has been released from dams to relieve pressure on their structures.

The Most Revd Stephen Than Myint Oo, Primate of the Church of the Province of Myanmar, has stressed the severity of the floods.

“My dear brothers and sisters from the Anglican Communion," the Archbishop said, “please pray for Myanmar and the Province of Myanmar which is badly affected by the heavy flood."

"Within two weeks the flood will cover almost all states and divisions in Myanmar. This flood reminds me of the catastrophe affected by Cyclone Nargis in 2008. We need your prayers and support," he added.

Provincial Development Department head Peter San Lin reported in a call with the Anglican Alliance yesterday that diocesan teams had already reached out to over 10,000 people in three areas.

Given that there were now enough agencies on the ground providing relief assistance, the Church was shifting its focus to recovery and rehabilitation, Peter reported.

In the long term there are concerns about food security after the government issued a flood warning for the Ayeyarwady delta, Myanmar's major rice-producing area. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 1 million acres of farmland have been affected by the floods.

“The Provincial Relief Committee are preparing a proposal that they will circulate soon,” Peter said.

In an immediate response, within days the Church had mobilized its relief committees and procured relief in the form of food and water to distribute in remote areas where the Church has had a historic presence, said Nagulan Nesiah of Episcopal Relief & Development.

"The Church of Myanmar was very involved in the creation and testing of the 'Pastors and Disasters' toolkit for disaster management, and they are utilizing those materials in the development of their response to Cyclone Komen," Nagulan added.

The Anglican Alliance encourages people throughout the Anglican Communion to join the Church in Myanmar in prayer as they gather at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Yangon this coming Sunday (9 August) at 2pm local time for a special service to pray for the flood victims and relief efforts.

Visit the Anglican Alliance website to support Anglican agency appeals for Myanmar and learn more about the Church of the Province of Myanmar’s on-going response to the crisis.

Share prayers for Myanmar on the Anglican Communion Prayer Wall.