21 April 2017

THE international leaders of The Salvation Army, General André Cox and Commissioner Silvia Cox (World President of Women's Ministries), met with survivors of a deadly rubbish dump landslide in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and brought encouragement to relief workers, including police, military and medical personnel. The 90-metre high dump collapsed on Good Friday, destroying 145 homes and causing a loss of life of at least 32 people. More homes were badly damaged and eight people are still registered as missing.

With a team of Salvation Army officers, the General and Commissioner Cox visited both the disaster site and a local school that has become a temporary shelter for approximately 200 people who have been left homeless. The couple moved among hundreds of people, bringing their personal greeting and interest to as many as possible.

The Salvation Army, alongside government agencies and other relief organisations, continues to provide for the immediate needs of those directly impacted by the disaster. A team of Salvation Army workers has provided meals for 550 people and on the day in which the international leaders visited the General joined a team that was distributing more than 700 pairs of slippers (sandals) to people who had lost everything. Salvation Army officers (ministers) have also been on hand to talk with survivors.

In an on-site media interview, General Cox assured survivors of The Salvation Army’s ongoing support. He also encouraged government and humanitarian relief agencies to work together towards solving the problems created by the dump’s collapse, emphasising the imperative of providing a timely resolution to people’s long-term security needs. He stressed that, as a Christian movement, The Salvation Army follows the example of Jesus Christ and offers its services without discrimination. 

Having responsibility over The Salvation Army's international ministry in 128 countries, the General and Commissioner Cox are in Colombo to meet with government ministers, Salvation Army leaders, heads of churches, leaders of other humanitarian organisations and members of The Salvation Army’s newly established National Advisory Board. They are also visiting Salvation Army residential services in Greater Colombo and speaking at various gatherings, one of which is a public celebration of culture and faith. 

Report by Major Peter McGuigan

Tags: Emergencies, South Asia, The General