Christian aid agencies seek funds to replenish Tonga emergency supplies

Christian aid agencies have launched emergency appeals as UN officials report that 84,000 people — more than 80 per cent of Tonga’s population — have been badly affected by the volcanic eruptions and tsunami waves that hit the island nation last Saturday.

Anglican Board of Missions (ABM) AID yesterday mounted an emergency appeal, following what it described as significant damage in Tonga’s northern more isolated islands which included contaminated water and food supplies as a result of ashfall as well as damage to buildings and crops caused by flooding.

All funds raised by ABM AID will go to Anglican Missions who are working closely with the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia.

The Tongan Navy has reported major damage in the Ha’apai group where up to 5-10m in height reached 500m inland. Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni’s office has announced the deaths of a 65-year-old woman on Mango island and a 49-year-old man on Nomuka, in addition to that of Angela Glover, a British woman living in Tonga whose body was found on Monday.

“We have been on the phone with Pacific partners, including Anglican Missions New Zealand, to obtain a clearer picture of the situation,” says ABM AID on its Facebook page.

“Electricity and mobile phone networks have been re-established on the main island of Tongatapu, but communications with the outer islands are intermittent.

“A joint effort between the New Zealand and Australian government has sent flights to Tonga to conduct survey reconnaissance to collect aerial data on the impacts of the volcanic ash and tsunami in Tonga.”

“Maintaining the pre-positioned supplies is especially important during the cyclone season.” – ABM AID

Anglican Missions NZ had previously organised for $NZD80,000 worth of emergency supplies to be in place at four Anglican churches in Nuku’alofa. It said funds raised in the current appeal would first be used to replenish this stock and to respond to other initial requests. “Maintaining the pre-positioned supplies is especially important during the cyclone season. Other activities will depend on an assessment of needs which should be available over the next few days.”

To donate to ABM AID, click here.

Caritas Australia is also raising funds to support communities hit by the eruption and tsunami in Tonga, while working with its local partner, Caritas Tonga, to assess the situation on the ground and determine the most urgent needs.

“Thankfully Caritas Tonga already has emergency supplies pre-positioned in the capital and Ha’apai, so they will be able to respond quickly to immediate needs with these supplies. However, it’s crucial that we step up and support our neighbours in Tonga, as they recover from this devastating volcanic eruption,” said Damaris Pfendt, Caritas Australia’s Pacific Humanitarian Coordinator.

He likened the scale of the volcanic eruption to that of the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa in Indonesia, which killed 36,000 people. Australia’s High Commissioner to Tonga, Rachael Moore

“There is an urgent need for fresh water and shelter, especially for the communities on the coastline whose homes were damaged by the tsunami waves.” – Damaris Pfendt

“So we are extremely concerned about the impacts of the eruption and tsunami in Tonga. Volcanic ash and saltwater inundation from the tsunami waves have contaminated water supplies, so many communities will be left without clean water. Tonga already struggles with clean water supplies because it relies on groundwater and rainwater, so this will put communities in a really difficult position,” he said.

“From the few updates that have come through, we know that the devastation is significant, especially for the outer-lying islands. There is an urgent need for fresh water and shelter, especially for the communities on the coastline whose homes were damaged by the tsunami waves. Roads and bridges have also been damaged.”

To donate to Caritas, click here.

Tonga Christian Radio reported that most properties along the western coast of Tongatapu had been damaged or destroyed. “The Ha’atafu beach resort, owned by a precious Tongan Christian family and used for the recent Tonga Christian Radio leadership training, has been wiped out,” TCRFM’s Andrew Marriott said on its Facebook page.

“We are also confident that they will be broadcasting messages of hope through Jesus to all who are able to tune in to 93.1FM for as long power is available,”

Tonga Christian Radio is also receiving donations to directly help those in greatest need, which may include some of the radio station hosts as they are voluntary workers. To donate, click here.

The Australian Council for International Development, the peak body for Australia’s aid and international development NGOs, urged people to donate responsibly and not add to the huge cleanup in Tonga. It said the most urgent need in times of crisis is money, not stuff. Learn more by clicking here.

“I invite everyone to join me in prayer for these our brothers and sisters.” – Pope Francis

Meanwhile, Pope Francis urged everyone to pray for the suffering people of Tonga in the aftermath of the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai undersea volcano.

“My thoughts go out to the peoples of the Tonga Islands who in recent days were affected by the eruption of an underwater volcano, which caused considerable material damage,” Pope Francis said.

“I am spiritually close to all those who are sorely tried, and I implore from God relief in their suffering. I invite everyone to join me in prayer for these our brothers and sisters.”

Anyone who wants to pray (or just listen to prayers) for devastated communities in Tonga may like to join a special Prayer Night via Zoom being held by FamilyVoice Australian at 7pm (AEDT) this evening.

Invitations have been sent to churches, especially from Tongan and Fiji island communities in Australia, to join the prayer night. Prayers will be led by Rev Mata Havea Hiliau, Tonga community, Rev Viniana Ravetaki, Fiji community and Greg Bondar, FamilyVoice Australia. To register click here.