UnitingWorld launches Emergency Appeal

UnitingWorld launches Emergency Appeal to support the people of Fiji following Cyclone Winston

Our friends in Fiji are suffering widespread destruction in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Winston, which hit on Saturday 20th Feb. Donate Now

Cyclone Winston, the strongest storm ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere, flattened entire villages with torrential rain, winds over 300 km an hour and storm surges. More than 40 people were killed and thousands of homes damaged. Hospitals, schools, crops, livestock and water supplies were hit and thousands of Fijians were forced to shelter in schools, churches and community buildings. Many remain there today.

Thanks to your generous gifts, UnitingWorld were able to respond quickly to this disaster, assisting our partner, the Methodist Church in Fiji to work alongside the Fiji government and provide humanitarian relief to thousands of people throughout affected communities. In particular, our partners are providing food, shelter, water purification tablets and cooking utensils, which are critically important for preparing the type of food that is distributed in emergencies and for purifying potentially contaminated water. These materials are being bought in non-affected areas of Fiji, helping to buoy the local economy and sustain the livelihoods of local people.

Photo source ABC News

Photo source ABC News

Our church partner is focusing their efforts on ‘the gaps’ – looking after communities not reached by other agencies and vulnerable households, such as those headed by women or with disabled members.

In response to a direct request by our partner, UnitingWorld were also able to provide training in Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy.

In the aftermath of disaster, people suffer from trauma – they need support to build resilience and cope with their changed circumstances and the people providing that support (often pastors, church leaders and chaplains) need skills to build up their own resilience. Fifty-five women and men attended the first workshop in Suva, which was led by National Disaster Recovery Officer Rev Dr Stephen Robinson and UnitingWorld’s Rev Dr Cliff Bird.

“It’s one of the very unique things we offer after a disaster,” says Michael Constable, who is UnitingWorld’s Emergency Response Manager.  “You can imagine how important for long term recovery it is for people to have this kind of support, but it’s not easy to provide.  The Church is well networked and with this new training, we’re in a great position to offer emotional and psychological support that will set these communities up for a stronger recovery.”

Longer term, funds raised through this Appeal will be used to rebuild schools, community and church buildings – using a ‘build back better approach’’ to ensure the safety of people in the future.

To support this Appeal you can call UnitingWorld on 1800 998 122 or click here to donate or you can also send cheques to: UnitingWorld, PO Box A2266, Sydney South NSW 1235.

Funds raised for this appeal will be used to provide immediate humanitarian relief for affected communities and assistance over the longer term.  Any excess funds will be held in our Emergency Contingency Fund and used to respond to future emergencies in the region. All donations are gratefully received. Donations $2 and over are tax deductible. Please click here to read our Privacy Policy.

Previous Updates

13 April

Our church partner The Methodist Church in Fiji is focusing their relief efforts on locations that have been assigned by the Government’s National Disaster Management Office  – paying particular attention to vulnerable households, such as those headed by women or with disabled members.

To date, over $365,000 has been raised by individuals and congregations of the Uniting Church. Funds are being used to rebuild schools and church and community buildings – using a ‘build back better approach’ to ensure new buildings are more resilient and can be used as emergency refuges to ensure the safety of people in the future.

11 March

Our partner the Methodist Church in Fiji, the Fiji Government and other humanitarian partners have now provided more than 30,000 people with water purification tablets and sanitation supplies. More than 18,000 people remain in 555 evacuation centres, of which 23 are schools. It is believed that all major roads are now passable which is improving distribution to affected communities, although some roads are only accessible by four-wheel drives. Our partner remains focused on complementing the Government of Fiji’s disaster response, roviding clothes, bedding and kitchen cooking/eating utensils to hundreds of people and focusing on vulnerable households such as those headed by women or with disabled members.

Next week our National Disaster Recovery Officer Rev Dr Stephen Robinson will deliver a disaster recovery workshop, following our church partner’s request for psychosocial counselling and training for pastors working in affected areas. The workshop will train over 40 women and men in community recovery and peer support.

4th March 

It has now been confirmed almost 350,000 people were affected by cyclone Winston. 120,000 people are estimated to need urgent humanitarian shelter assistance, over 54, 700 people are still sheltering in evacuation centres and in the hardest hit areas, up to 90 per cent of structures are destroyed.

The north and north western coast of Viti Levu, the south coast of Vanua Levu and some communities in the East and Central Regions have been particularly hard hit. Two villages on Koro Island have been completely destroyed. 42 people have been confirmed dead and some 135 are reported as injured. Approx. 14% of the population are currently sheltering in nearly 900 evacuation centres. Aid, including food rations, is arriving in cyclone affected communities and assessments are now underway across the country.

26 out of the 57 divisions our partner church covers have been badly affected. Complementing the Government of Fiji’s disaster response, the Methodist Church in Fiji is providing clothes, bedding and kitchen cooking/eating utensils.

In some locations it will also provide some food and water purification tablets. Cooking utensils are very important because they are needed for preparing the type of food that is distributed in emergencies and for purifying potentially contaminated water. The Church will provide relief to all community members in areas where it has congregations that are not already receiving relief from other local civil society or non-government organisations. The town of Ba is an example where the MCIF has a significant presence but the relief effort is already being looked after by other agencies. The MCIF will also ensure that vulnerable households (such as those headed by women or with disabled members) are prioritised.

Supplies of the materials our church partner intends to contribute to the relief effort are all obtainable in Suva and Nadi which were not in TC Winston’s direct path. This strategy helps to buoy the local economy, sustaining the livelihoods of local people.

Our church partner is seeking financial support from UnitingWorld to purchase all of these items. Longer term, funds raised will be used to rebuild schools – using a ‘build back better approach’’ to ensure the safety of people in the future.  Our church partner has also requested psychosocial counselling and training for a core group of pastors in the worst affected areas.

Please give your most generous gift today.

Call UnitingWorld on 1800 998 122 or click here to donate to our Emergency Contingency Fund.

Funds raised for this appeal will be used to provide immediate humanitarian relief for affected communities and assistance over the longer term.  Any excess funds will be held in our Emergency Contingency Fund and used to respond to future emergencies in the region. All donations are gratefully received. Donations $2 and over are tax deductible. Please click here to read our Privacy Policy.

Update: 25 February

Yesterday, our partner the Methodist Church in Fiji formed a Disaster Response Committee  to lead the Church’s response to the humanitarian crisis. They report that thousands of homes have been destroyed, tens of thousands of people made destitute and are  without food, shelter or clothing. Schools and buildings are reduced to rubble. The death toll has now risen to 42.

SourceFijiGovtThe committee, which is made up of key leaders from the church’s i-Taukei-speaking, English and Hindi-speaking divisions and includes leaders from Women’s and Youth fellowships, is assessing the impact of Tropical Cyclone Winston, developing immediate, short, medium and long term relief responses and channelling overseas partner support to appropriate church and government relief and resilience programmes.

Immediate Assistance from the National Disaster Management Office includes distributing:

Food Rations, Water, Shelter, Sanitation, Accessibility to relief for all affected people.

In response to gap analysis clothes, bedding, sleeping mats, cooking utensils, Kerosene Stoves and Lanterns and crops for replanting are being distributed.

Please keep our partners and the people of Fiji in your prayers. To donate to our Fiji Emergency Appeal and support the response efforts of our partners, please call UnitingWorld on 1800 998 122 or click here to donate to our Emergency Contingency Fund.

All funds raised through this appeal will be used to support our church partner’s relief efforts, including re-establishing schools, replanting crops and livelihoods and ‘building back better’ to safeguard communities against future cyclones.

Please give your most generous gift today.

Funds raised for this appeal will be used to provide immediate humanitarian relief for affected communities and assistance over the longer term.  Any excess funds will be held in our Emergency Contingency Fund and used to respond to future emergencies in the region. All donations are gratefully received. Donations $2 and over are tax deductible. Please click here to read our Privacy Policy.

Update: 24 February:Our church partner Rev James Bhagwan has reported this morning that the Methodist Church in Fiji’s disaster response committee is meeting today. Ministers throughout Fiji are reporting back with their disaster assessments and local churches have begun their relief programmes.

29 people are confirmed dead and National Disaster Management Office director Akapusi Tuifagalele said about 14,000 people remain in evacuation centres. Whole villages have been destroyed, particularly on the island of Koro where a relief and assessment ship is being deployed.

UnitingWorld staff member Rev Dr Cliff Bird reports from Suva:

“The destruction has been widespread and very bad. The Lau group of islands, Koro Island, villages on Vanua Levu and their township Savusavu have been hit very badly. Hundreds of homes have been lost, infrastructure damaged, farms, vegetable gardens, livelihoods destroyed. Water and power supply to many areas are still down.”

Photo source looptonga.com and ABC news

Photo source looptonga.com and ABC news

Our partner, the Methodist Church in Fiji is the largest denomination in the country, covering an extensive network across 55 districts.

National Director of UnitingWorld Rob Floyd has spoken with President of the Church, Rev Tevita Bainivanua and has offered immediate emergency relief and longer term disaster recovery.

President Rev Tevita has opened all church buildings for emergency shelter and has directed ministers throughout the country to assess and report on the extent of the damage.

All funds raised through this appeal will be used to support our church partner’s relief efforts, including re-establishing healthcare and schools, replanting crops and livelihoods and ‘building back better’ to safeguard communities against future cyclones.

Please give your most generous gift today.

Call UnitingWorld on 1800 998 122 or click here to donate to our Emergency Contingency Fund.

Funds raised for this appeal will be used to provide immediate humanitarian relief for affected communities and assistance over the longer term.  Any excess funds will be held in our Emergency Contingency Fund and used to respond to future emergencies in the region. All donations are gratefully received. Donations $2 and over are tax deductible. Please click here to read our Privacy Policy.