Catholic Mission is urging Australians to reach out to residents of Fiji following a category five cyclone that devastated the island at the weekend.

The call comes amid fears of a health crisis in the Pacific nation, after tropical cyclone Winston caused widespread destruction and left at least ten people dead.

Catholic Mission, with its partner Australian Marist Solidarity, is funding a shelter in the capital Suva for families affected by Cyclone Winston, reported to be one of the most powerful ever recorded in the southern hemisphere.

Father Brian Lucas, National Director of Catholic Mission, says while the storm has passed, the most dangerous time may be yet to come. “In crises such as these, the storm itself is only part of the problem,” he said. “It is the subsequent loss of power and infrastructure, as well as flooding and isolation, can lead to the significant spread of disease and famine.”

Catholic Mission is funding the Marist Champagnat Vocational Centre in Suva, which is being operated by Australian Marist Solidarity as a shelter for vulnerable people in the low-lying region of Nanuku.

“Fiji will need a great deal of support in coming days to rebuild the church infrastructure that is so important to its spiritual and faithful people,” said Fr Lucas. “However, at such a critical stage, the Church, through its agencies, is working to provide for the immediate needs of safety and security.”

Fr Lucas says Catholic Mission is liaising with the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Fiji, Sister Merieti Riiki, in an effort to assess the situation and provide support where it is most needed. “It is important at this difficult time that we work together, with agencies such as Caritas, in the best interests of our brothers and sisters in Fiji.”

For more information please phone 1800 257 256.

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