Vatican News
A disaster scene in Tanjung, Indonesia, following the tsunami of December 22, 2018. A disaster scene in Tanjung, Indonesia, following the tsunami of December 22, 2018.   (AFP or licensors)

Solidarity of Caritas, WCC for Indonesia’s tsunami victims

At least 373 people have been killed and over 1,400 are injured after a tsunami hit the rim regions of the Sunda Strait of Indonesia on December 22.

By Robin Gomes

Members of Caritas Internationalis, the federation of Catholic charities worldwide, have reached out to Caritas Indonesia or Karina in bringing aid to those hit by the tsunami that hit the rim areas of the Sunda Strait, between Java and Sumatra islands, on December 22 that has killed at least 373 people and injured more than 1,400.  The death toll is likely to rise with 128 people still missing.

Officials and scientists explained on Monday that a large chunk of a flank of the volcanic Anak Krakatau island slipped into the ocean and triggered a tsunami that hit the surrounding shores.

Caritas Indonesia

One of the affected areas is Anyer on Java island, under the jurisdiction of Bogor Diocese, and another is Lampung on Sumatra Island, under Tanjungkarang Diocese. 

According to Yohannes Baskoro, Project manager of Caritas Indonesia, the Caritas of the two dioceses have already swung into action.

Caritas Tanjungkarang has already distributed 700 food packets to survivors in the hospital area Lampung city and in Kalianda.  Another thousand packets are scheduled for distribution on Christmas day.   

In Java, a team of volunteers from Jakarta Archdiocese has set out in a vehicle for Bogor, where the local Caritas unit has held coordination meetings in the parishes of Rangkas Bitung and Serang. 

Caritas Indonesia is organizing the coordination of volunteers from other Caritas units of the country for the emergency.  Father Ignatius Swasono, interim director of Caritas Indonesia said they are basing their coordinating efforts in 3 parishes in the area of Cilegon, Java. He appealed to Italians to once more give them a hand this Christmas to bring hope to the affected people.  He said the Catholic hospital of Cilegon Serang has been open to all those in need. 

Pope Francis

Pope Francis on Sunday appealed to the international community to support the victims of Indonesia’s devastating tsunami.

He invited everyone to join in praying for the victims and for their loved ones and expressed his spiritual closeness to those who are affected by the tragedy, imploring God’s consolation on the suffering. 

“My appeal is that these brothers and sisters may not lack our solidarity and the support of the International Community” the Holy Father added.

US bishops

The Catholic bishops of the United States have responded to Pope Francis and appealed to the international community to help out in relief operations. 

“Together with our Holy Father Pope Francis, I appeal for the ‘solidarity and the support of the International Community’ for our brothers and sisters,” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said in a statement on Sunday. 

While pledging prayers on behalf of the Catholic Church of the US, he expressed condolences for the dead and injured.  “I know that Catholic Relief Services, Caritas Indonesia, and other local partners have teams on the ground responding and they will be providing relief and assistance,” Archbishop DiNardo added.

England & Wales

The Catholic Church of England and Wales has also appealed for prayers and donations for the victims of Indonesia’s tsunami.  Its Catholic Agency For Overseas Development, CAFOD, which is a member of Caritas Internationalis, has raised over £200,000 in donations for the victims of Indonesia’s disaster.  

CAFOD Director Chris Bain said that Caritas Indonesia is doing its “utmost to provide the basics – clean drinking water, food, and shelter - for people to survive over the coming days and weeks.”

“We are already receiving donations from the Catholic community across England and Wales. 

He said that with the support of the British public and the Disasters Emergency Committee, Caritas Indonesia units “on the ground will continue to work around the clock to ensure that families in some of the remotest areas are not beyond the reach of vital emergency aid.”

World Council of Churches

The World Council of Churches (WCC) also expressed its solidarity and offered condolences for the victims of Indonesia’s tsunami victims. 

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people affected by the tsunami in Indonesia,” said Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, the general secretary of the ecumenical fellowship.  “The church is called to be a source of recovery and restoration, particularly at such times of loss and pain.” “We stand with you in your own pain and as you seek to bear witness to God’s love and care at this time. We journey with you now and as we continue on the pilgrimage of justice and peace,” Tveit said.

24 December 2018, 15:26