Solomon Islands

ACT member responds to needs of Solomon Islanders

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Geneva, January 9, 2003 - Relief efforts to help the inhabitants of two remote Pacific Islands are continuing after a powerful cyclone slammed into the islands nearly two weeks ago.
The Church of Melanesia, a member of the global alliance Action by Churches Together (ACT) International, reports that they will be responding to the disaster by assisting the inhabitants of the two islands, Tikopia and Anuta. Both form part of the eastern Solomon Islands. The cyclone, with winds reaching up to 220 mph (250 km per hour), battered the islands on December 28 - 29, 2002, causing widespread damage to Tikopia. Anuta however did not suffer as much damage.

The General Secretary of the Church of Melanesia, George Kiriau, writes that the church is mobilizing relief assistance for Tikopia that may include food, clothing, bedding, local building materials such as sago palm leaves, household items such as cooking utensils and gardening tools.

He said "it is the intention of the church to use its own vessel to deliver the relief supplies when Bishop of the Diocese, Bishop Vunagi undertakes his pastoral visit to the islands later this month".

Kiriau also reports that most coastal villages were washed away during the cyclone. "Three villages on Tikopia were affected, namely Namo, Ravengna and Tai. Apart from the houses that were either completely destroyed or severely damaged, five church buildings were also destroyed."

The water supply system on Tikopia suffered some damage as well, although fresh water for drinking was available. Kiriau writes that according to reports from the National Disaster Council of the Solomon Islands three shiploads of relief supplies had been sent to the islands, but that "it appeared that the assistance to this far-flung island (Tikopia) had not met all the needs". The church therefore intended to focus on relief items such as local building materials that were still in short supply. Tikopia is located about 600 miles from the capital of the Solomon Islands, Honiara.

ACT International and the World Council of Churches are working closely with the Church of Melanesia. ACT will possibly respond to a request for financial assistance by the church from its Rapid Response Fund.