Prayers and Preparation for Yasa
Assembly President Dr Deidre Palmer has called Uniting Church members to pray for the people of Fiji as Tropical Cyclone Yasa heads towards the Fijian archipelago.
The Fijian government has ordered a nationwide curfew as the Category 5 storm passes over the islands from Thursday evening Australian time (17 Dec), bringing with it torrential rain and winds of up to 250 kilometres an hour.
About 850,000 Fijians – 95 per cent of the population – live in the direct path of the cyclone, and people in low-lying areas have been ordered to move to higher ground.
“We are watching the news about Cyclone Yasa with alarm and deep concern for you and our friends and partners in Fiji,” said Dr Palmer in a message to Rev James Bhagwan, General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches.
“You are very much on our hearts and in our prayers.”
While preparing his own home for the Cyclone, Rev Bhagwan replied saying, he feared for his countrymen and women.
“This is a huge system so Suva will take a bigger hit than in 2016 with Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston, and as you know, the many squatter and informal settlements in the greater Suva area have very ill-constructed homes so this is a major worry,” said Rev Bhagwan.
“Yet our faith, our traditional knowledge and wisdom and experiences of the past keep us resilient. We have been expecting this weather since the early and abundant breadfruit season and prolonged mango season (see how God through His creation speaks to us and provides for us).
Rev Bhagwan also lamented the Australian Government’s lack of action to address the affects of climate change, which include more frequent and severe tropical storms.
“Thank you for keeping us in prayers. It will be a tough Christmas. We really need to shift gear on Climate Change as these are all climate change induced extreme weather events. When we talk about loss and damage in climate negotiations – this is part of it.”
“At times like this I question your government’s commitment to their Pacific family. How much of the support that will flow in after this cyclone in terms of relief is to their “Vuvale” Pacific Partnership and how much is a guilt offering on their failure to be the world leader they could be on climate change.
“It breaks my heart that the Pacific Church Partnership of DFAT will engage on many things but we are not able to leverage it on the urgent matter of climate change. Nevertheless we will remain the persistent widow until things change.”
The National Director of UnitingWorld Dr Sureka Goringe echoed the President’s call for prayers and said she and her team would be watching the situation closely in the hours ahead.
“A speedy emergency response is going to be vital,” said Dr Goringe.
“UnitingWorld stands ready to assist our friends in the Methodist Church in Fiji and the Pacific Conference of Churches. and we will call on the generosity of Uniting Church members.”
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