News

Flood Relief Appeal

Severe flooding brought on by monsoon rains and heavy winds across southwestern portions of Sri Lanka has caused floods and landslides in the South and South west areas of the country while over 100,000 drought hit farmers in many other areas have not received rains that they were yearning for. Around 630,082 people belonging to 163,889 families have been affected in 15 Districts due to the flood situation. According to the situation report issued by Disaster Management Committee on 31-05-2017 1800hrs there have been 203 Deaths and 96 people are reported missing. Over 1,509 houses have been destroyed and around 7643 houses are partially damaged.  Thousands of Sri Lankan families remained in temporary places of refuge unable to return to their homes as the death toll from devastating floods and mudslides climbed past 200. Apart from the many displaced, the plantation estate workers and the daily paid workers have been unable to earn their living and have been without an income or support the past week and will not see a major change in the coming weeks ahead. Dry rations, food supplies, clothing are amongst the most needed along with medical and education support. With several government exams in the pipe line the students have very little time to catch up and need support in their educational material, trauma counselling and psychosocial support. People are still experiencing rain and heavy winds in most areas whilst the flood levels are receding very slowly further delaying the people from going back to their homes.  The rains have subsided in other areas but landslide warnings are still in effect. The NCCSL retreat Centre, at Athurugiriya, which was covered with 07 feet of water is now being cleaned. NCCSL’s Emergency Response Appeal NCCSL, through its local church and interfaith partners on the ground has already provided around 4000 cooked meals. We are now launching an appeal to provide 2500 dry ration packs to those most affected and emergency support to 750 households. These include Kitchen Utensil packs, House cleaning Kits and Hygiene Kits. We plan to distribute 1000 Education packs to young people as well as conducting supplementary classes for O and A level students.  We also hope to support the cleaning of up to 50 wells and conduct 4 medical camps. Distribution will be to vulnerable communities in hard to reach areas in Matara, Ratnapura (Nivithigala), Kalutara and Galle. They will be distributed through our local church partners who are on the ground and in regular contact with us. Reports coming in from the field indicate the existence of gaps in the relief operation, and the difficulty in getting back to their homes and livelihoods. The children remain most affected having lost their text books, notes, clothing and traumatised. The field reports suggest that the number of victims from the landslide is far greater than what is being reported and some bodies may never be recovered. Although emergency relief is essential we need to develop a long term strategy with the churches, interfaith networks and affected communities to respond to the dual difficulties of drought and floods and the ever increasing risk of landslides. These particularly affect the most vulnerable and the poor in Sri Lanka year after year including drought affected farmers. If you wish to support our appeal please contact info@nccsl.org

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Flood Relief Update 6 June 2017

Severe flooding brought on by monsoon rains and heavy winds across southwestern portions of Sri Lanka has caused floods and landslides in the South and South west areas of the country while over 100,000 drought hit farmers in many other areas have not received rains that they were yearning for. Around 630,082 people belonging to 163,889 families have been affected in 15 Districts due to the flood situation. According to the situation report issued by Disaster Management Committee on 31-05-2017 1800hrs there have been 203 Deaths and 96 people are reported missing. Over 1,509 houses have been destroyed and around 7643 houses are partially damaged.  Thousands of Sri Lankan families remained in temporary places of refuge unable to return to their homes as the death toll from devastating floods and mudslides climbed past 200. Apart from the displaced the poor plantation estate workers and the daily paid workers have been unable to earn their living and have been without an income or support the past week and will not see a major change in the coming weeks as well. Dry rations, food supplies, clothing are amongst the most needed along with medical support. With several government exams in the pipe line the students have very little time to catch up and need support in their educational material, trauma counselling and psychosocial support. People are still experiencing rain and heavy winds in most areas whilst the flood levels are receding very slowly further delaying the people from going back to their homes.  The rains have subsided in other areas but landslide warnings are still in effect. The NCCSL retreat Centre, at Athurugiriya, which was covered with 07 feet of water is now being cleaned. Response at local and national level    The government of Sri Lanka, through its chain of government officials, the Police, Army and Naval forces are working in the affected areas mainly ensuring safety.Volunteer organisations, media institutions and various groups with coordinating capacity have been collecting dry rations and water for the affected people. Several areas still remain inaccessible and aid has not trickled in to those areas.  The government has appealed to the international community for support in the relief and rebuilding work.  The local churches that have concentrated on providing cooked food are now moving out to the provide dry rations. NCCSL’s  Response as at 1st June 2017 NCCSL, through its local church and interfaith partners on the ground has already provided around 4000 cooked meals. We are now launching an appeal to provide 2500 dry ration packs to those most affected and emergency support to 750 households. These include Kitchen Utensil packs, House cleaning Kits and Hygiene Kits. We plan to distribute 1000 Education packs to young people as well as conducting supplementary classes for O and A level students.  We also hope to support the cleaning of up to 50 wells and conduct 4 medical camps. Distribution will be to vulnerable communities in hard to reach areas in Matara, Ratnapura (Nivithigala), Kalutara and Galle. They will be distributed through our local church partners who are on the ground and in regular contact with us. Reports coming in from the field indicate the existence of gaps in the relief operation, and the difficulty in getting back to their homes and livelihoods. The children remain most affected having lost their text books, notes, clothing and traumatised. The field reports suggest that the number of victims from the landslide is far greater than what is being reported and some bodies may never be recovered. Although emergency relief is essential we need to develop a long term strategy with the churches and affected communities to respond to the dual difficulties of drought and floods and the ever increasing risk of landslides. These particular affect the most vulnerable and the poor in Sri Lanka year after year including the farmers.

Flood Relief Update 6 June 2017 Read More »

Statement on the increase of incidents of violence and intimidation against religious communities

We are deeply concerned and saddened by the increase in incidents of violence and intimidation against religious communities and especially those recently directed towards minority communities. Our member churches come together regularly to reflect on the values and principles that should underpin the human right to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience in a truly inclusive, pluralist Sri Lanka. We recognise that there are a wide variety of still unresolved issues that are faced by each religious community which require immediate attention and action. It is vital that law and order is maintained and enforced by the appropriate law enforcement authorities at every level to effectively and visibly respond to the variety of instances of violence and intimation that occur – irrespective of who instigates such acts. The police must be active and supported in their ability to enforce current legislation and maintain safety, law, order and stability for all and there should be clear directives for law enforcement for dealing with attacks and intimation against places of worship and religious communities. There should be no room whatsoever for any groups or persons to act on their own initiative in taking matters of law and order into their own hands. There are many unclear aspects of the current legal framework including those which relate to the construction of places of worship, the identifying and safeguarding of archaeological sites and the propagation of one’s own religious beliefs that are governed by conflicting and confusing circulars. We thus believe it is time to review the laws of our country so that there is a clear enforceable legal framework to preserve religious harmony whilst not denying the rights and privileges already enshrined in the constitution.  We consider that it is vital to ensure that the rights of individuals and communities to practice and live out their faith are protected by law with guarantees for the protection for freedom of religion, belief and expression, as well as legislation against discrimination and hate crimes. This alone will not be enough. There must be dialogue and understanding between the leaders of religious communities at every level. We appeal to all religious leaders to come together in dialogue in order to build community cohesion and peacefully resolve issues that arise between us which may impact national harmony. As churches we are open to participating in or facilitating these conversations in a constructive manner whether through existing forums or via new mechanisms. We believe that dialogue, the building of relationships and mutual understanding are the key to bringing about a peaceful and harmonious society whilst recognising that it is our duty to expose all forms of extremism and violent discourse within our own religion and within our own communities. We cannot reflect on these issues without also expressing our solidarity with all those, throughout the world, who are experiencing violence, hatred and intimidation because of their faith or beliefs. We extend and express our support to the Government of Sri Lanka in its efforts to peacefully combat all forms of extremism and violence and urge the Government to make our country a leading example of protection for freedom of religion, freedom of conscience and the rights of all religious groups. Signed by: The NCCSL also represents the following Ecumenical Organizations:

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Statement – Call to protect religious freedom and religious harmony in Sri Lanka

National Christian Council of Sri Lanka Statement 20th June 2017 The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka, which represents the majority of non-Roman Catholic churches in Sri Lanka, is disturbed by some of the views expressed over the past few days in relation to the violence, intimidation and the threat posed against Christian churches in the country. We reiterate the fact that Christian churches have been subject to violence, intimidation and threats over the past few years. This is in addition to the many ongoing issues that the Christian community faces with regard to the construction of places of worship, the registration of churches, house churches, Christian education in state schools and the forced closure of churches etc. which successive governments have failed to address despite us having made clear representations to the relevant authorities. We are of the opinion that the current crisis, which has been precipitated through TV debates and pronouncements of politicians, is only trying to deal with the visible wounds and symptoms of a problem without trying to address the root causes. We recognise that many of the problems we face are precipitated by the actions of a small number of extremist elements within each religion. The Council has been involved, over very many years in, formal and informal, consultations and conversations with Religious leaders from all faiths and with a variety forums within the Christian community. We are confident that honest and frank dialogue sustained by a sincere commitment from the Religious Leaders of all faiths can reduce the tension without further damaging the Interfaith cordiality and harmony that has existed in this country. We once again stress, to all those in positions of authority, that it is of paramount importance that law and order should be enforced by the police without bias and fear. No individuals or groups should be allowed to take the law into their own hands and must be prevented from inappropriately using religious sentiments for personal or political ends. Only last week we issued a statement that was clear in both of these principles. We appeal to the government to take immediate steps to seek to resolve the underlying problems faced by religious minorities on this island and appeal to the Religious Leaders to come together to collectively address the crucial underlying issues, so that religious freedom for all religious communities is upheld in law and that the right of every individual to proclaim his or her own religion, and to contribute to public life, without being subjected to attack or ridicule, is respected and protected. Signed by: The NCCSL also represents the following Ecumenical Organizations:

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Localizing Response to Humanitarian Need: The Role of Religious and Faith Based Organizations

The NCCSL is delighted to be part of the host committee along with other partners to support Localizing Response to Humanitarian Need: The Role of Religious and Faith Based Organizations. Following up on commitments made at the World Humanitarian Summit this Forum has been organised by a committee of 15 diverse international religious and faith- based networks active in humanitarian response, and a Sri Lankan host committee co- chaired by Venerable Banagala Upatissa Thero (Mahabodhi Society of Sri Lanka) and Reverend Ebenezer Joseph (National Christina Council of Sri Lanka) through the Interfaith Coalition for peace. The goal of the Forum is to explore diverse examples and methods of engagement of local religious and faith networks, so that policy makers, secular agencies and local faith actors may more effectively collaborate with each other in responding to humanitarian needs. Among the 150 international experts participating in the Forum are local religious leaders, representatives of local faith networks, religious and faith-based organizations, and secular and faith-based NGOs. Also present will be senior officials from bilateral, multilateral, donor, private sector organizations interested in further engagement with faith networks. The Forum planning committee, in consultation with local experts, selected Sri Lanka as a location for the working meeting because we have so much to learn from its long experience of religious and faith-based leadership in humanitarian response The local host committee is preparing a panel of experts to present lessons learned from the Sri Lankan experiences of local religious and faith-based engagement in peace making and reconciliation, and in responding to natural disasters. The local host committee includes: International bodies include: Act Alliance, Anglican Communion, Cadena, Finn Church Aid, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities , Network of Religious and Traditional Leaders, Muslim Aid, Muslim Charities Forum, Partnership for Faith and Development, Religions for Peace, Soka Gakkai International, World Council of Churches, World Evangelical Alliance, World Vision. The conference runs from 16-18 October. You can get up to date information on the conference here.

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Thanksgiving Service in Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Christian Conference of Asia and 500 Years of Reformation

The Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), originally named as the East Asia Christian Conference, which began its ecumenical journey in March 1957, celebrates 60 years of proving a valuable service. It places itself as an institution of continuing cooperation among the churches and national Christian bodies in Asia, within the framework of the wider ecumenical movement.CCA is committed to the equal participation of women, men, youth, clergy and laity in church and society. Many Sri Lankans have played an important role in the life and witness of the CCA, such as, Rev. Dr. D.T. Niles, being the founding secretary, Rt. Rev. Kenneth Fernando, Mrs. Chithra Fernando, Rev. Duleep Fernando, Mr. Israel Paulraj, to name a few, while Rt. Rev. Diloraj R. Canagasabey holds office in the present Executive Committee.Further emphasizing the contribution made by Sri Lanka, the CCA General Assembly in the year 1995 was held in Sri Lanka, themed, Hope in God: in a Changing Asia.In October 2017, the world marked the five-hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. At the center of this movement stands Luther’s rediscovery of the Gospel message, interpreting the Bible in new ways, thereby calling into being many of the Protestant denominations that exist to this day.Taking into consideration these two important milestones in Church history, the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka has organised a thanks-giving service, to praise and thank God for the vision set on us.The service will be held at the 4.00pm on December 1. 2017 at the Christian Reformed Church, Galle Road, Colombo 04, incidentally being one of the oldest CRC churches in Sri Lanka. The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka, also takes the opportunity in felicitating and honouring those have made a significant contribution to the ecumenical movement through NCCSL and its constituent members.The communion service, commencing at 4pm, will be graced by all Heads of the member churches and foreign dignitaries, including the General Secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia Dr. Mathew George Chunakara, from Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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