[ACNS] The chief executive of the Anglican Missions Board (AMB) – the relief and development agency of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia – has called on international Anglicans to assist with prayers and funds as it responds to the recent cyclone that caused devastation in Fiji and its surrounding islands.
In an interview with Gillian Oliver for ACNS, the Revd Canon Robert Kereopa, the executive officer for AMB, explained that the Anglican and Methodist Churches in New Zealand were working together to organise two containers of emergency aid for Fiji.
The immediate need is for basic supplies such as clothing, makeshift shelters, blankets and water, he said, as the work continues in “rescue mode.” This would soon move into “relief mode” and then “rebuilding mode.”
“This is the most severe cyclone to hit our region, clearly with devastating results,” he said. “We have 42 dead so far. Islands have been devastated, housing and people’s lives [have been] devastated.
“What is happening now [is that] rescue and relief efforts are stepping up from all quarters, including the government. Churches are looking at ways they can assist. And our churches on the ground [that] we have been in contact with are asking for support and help.”
Canon Kereopa explained that communications in the region have been badly affected by the cyclone; but the AMB is continuing to gather information and its projects officer, Mike Hawke, is already working on the ground in Fiji. “It’s early days and we are going to need to be in for the long haul, he said.”
The Anglican Alliance is helping to co-ordinate an international response from Anglican relief agencies across the globe; but Canon Kereopa said that “whatever support can be offered will be greatly received” as he indicated that the most effective response from other Anglicans would be prayers and funds.
“Prayer to assist those with rescue, relief and rebuilding efforts – clearly there are prayer needs there,” he said. “I think prayer, too, for a resilient Pacific as climate change is bring more severe cyclones to our region.
“We had a very severe cyclone in the Vanuatu – Solomon Islands region last year at the same time and another one in the Polynesia region this year; so it seems to me the impact of climate change is bringing more severe cyclones to our region. This [latest one in Fiji] was the most severe cyclone to hit our region.”
- You can support the Anglican Missions Board emergency appeal by donating online.