Prayer for Fiji

Posted in News

On Saturday 20 February, Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston hit Fiji. With a category-five rating – the highest rating possible – the storm has caused widespread devastation. While the storm is now headed out to sea, Fijian communities are dealing with the massive damage left behind. Already at least 10 people have been confirmed dead as a result of the storm.

UnitingWorld, the international aid agency of the Uniting Church in Australia, has strong connections to Fiji and ties to the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma.

On Monday 22 February, Rev Dr Cliff Bird from UnitingWorld’s Fiji office provided an update. Before this time it had been difficult for representatives on the ground to contact others as power was cut and mobile phone signals were badly affected.

“The very sketchy information received so far indicates that destruction has been widespread and very bad,” Cliff says. “Hundreds of homes have been lost, infrastructure damaged, farms destroyed.”

The Australian Government has already offered support to Fiji. Many Australians are expected to be affected by the disaster, with approximately 1,300 Australian visitors registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – a number that is expected to be much higher once those not registered are accounted for.

Storm, gale and flood warnings are still in place throughout much of the country. Over coming days, flash flooding and mudslides are likely to be a concern, particularly in coastal areas.

The General Secretary of the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma has instructed divisional superintendents and ministers to make church buildings available as evacuation centres.

UnitingWorld has now launched an Emergency Appeal for Fiji with all funds supporting church partner relief efforts. This includes re-establishing healthcare and schools, replanting crops and livelihoods, and rebuilding in ways to better safeguard communities against future natural disasters.

Members of the Uniting Church in Australia are also being encouraged to pray for those who have been affected by the disaster, particularly as communities come to terms with the damage that has been done.

More information will be provided through New Times online, Facebook and UC e-News as the situation develops.

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