Northern Ireland news

Inter-faith, cross-community charity walk through Belfast in aid of Sri Lanka Easter bombings victims

Menik Glynn who is organising a charity walk in Belfast Picture Mal McCann

AN inter-faith, cross-community charity walk in aid of victims of the Sri Lanka Easter bombings will see people converge on city hall from across Belfast this weekend.

A call went out earlier this month to faith communities across the city from campaigner Menik Glynn for vital funds to help hundreds of people still suffering from devastating injuries after the attacks.

Suicide bombers killed at least 253 people and injured some 500 at churches and top-end hotels across Sri Lanka in a co-ordinated campaign blamed on local jihadists linked to the Islamic State (IS) group.

Mrs Glynn, who is originally from Sri Lanka and now living in south Belfast with her family, said aid is desperately needed for the survivors who have been "crippled physically and mentally".

"They have seen the devastation and have to live with it."

She set up the Sevana charity in 2005, a year after the tsunami devastated the island nation, and personally travels over to hand over the money and oversee its distribution.

The charity "operates by unpaid volunteers and who also cover running expenses - therefore all donations go 100 per cent to those intended".

The walk will take place this Sunday, June 2, and Mrs Glynn already has a flight to Colombo booked for July 20.

Supporters from across Belfast will meet at city hall at 2pm and walk from there in a procession with collection buckets and banners passing various places of worship around the central shopping district.

According to Mrs Glynn, among those joining will be members of the Belfast Islamic Centre.

She is in regular contact with St Anthony's Church in Negombo, where most of the deaths and injuries were, and asked clergy to identify victims in need of support.

She said she horrified when the news of the attacks and the casualties broke.

"I'm a Catholic and I can't imagine having my head down to bow in prayer and taking my last blessing and that happening.

"The dead are gone, but those who are left - there are 700-some in hospital and half of those are crippled - they need help and support."

She said the country fears another attack and has banned large religious gatherings as a precaution.

"Sri Lanka is a multi-faith country and the next three months are holy months for Buddhists - the three full moon days are a time of worship - and they will now go to the temple instead of having gatherings in the streets."

www.facebook.com/SevanaTsunamiSriLanka/

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