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Dr. Williams appointed chairman of Christian Aid: The Church of England Newspaper, December 20, 2012 December 28, 2012

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The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams is to become the next chairman of the board of trustees of the international relief agency Christian Aid.

On 12 Dec 2012, Christian Aid director Loretta Minghella announced Dr. Williams would take up the post next May in succession to Dame Anne Owers whose term of office ended last month.

In a statement released by the Lambeth Palace press office, Dr. Williams said he was “very honoured” by the invitation to chair Christian Aid. “I had hoped very much to be able to continue some regular involvement in support and advocacy in the area of international justice and development” following his retirement as archbishop in December, “this will allow such an involvement to flourish,” he said.

“Many years of co-operation with and support for Christian Aid have made me familiar with the excellent quality of all that they do, and I am personally very happy indeed to be working with them in this new role at a time when international development issues will need the most dedicated and sustained attention,” Dr. Williams said.

Ms. Minghella said the agency greeted the news of Dr. Williams’ appointment with joy.“Archbishop Rowan brings a passionate interest in tackling the symptoms and causes of poverty, a profound theological understanding, and deep experience of addressing issues of environmental, economic and social justice with church and political leaders across the world.”

“This is wonderful news for Christian Aid,” she said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

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Communal violence errupts in Assam: The Church of England Newspaper, September 2, 2012 p 1. September 6, 2012

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Communal violence in the North East Indian state of Assam has claimed the lives of approximately 75 people and displaced over 400,000 people after fighting erupted between Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh and the predominantly Hindu and Christian Bodo people.

The Church of North India in conjunction with the Lutheran World Service India trust, Churches Auxiliary for Social Action and other Christian NGOs has asked for assistance to support the refugees housed in 270 relief camps across Assam.

Press reports from India state the violence erupted on 20 July after four Bodo youths were killed in a fight with Bengali immigrants.  Bodo tribesmen retaliated by attacking Bengali settlements and the violence then spiraled out of control.  Hundreds of villages are reported to have been looted and over 5000 homes destroyed.

Friction between Bengali immigrants and Bodo tribesman has grown in recent years and is not the first time the two groups have come to blows.  In 1993 2000 people were killed in sectarian clashes, and in 2003 the government signed a peace deal with Bodo militants giving them autonomy over the four districts.

On 24 July the Indian Federal government responded to the sectarian violence by dispatching troops to the troubled districts, which are part of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s parliamentary constituency.  A dusk to dawn curfew was imposed on 26 July and the army ordered to shoot looters on sight.

Prime Minister Singh visited the riot torn area last week and said the central government will closely work with the Assam state government to ensure the people’s safety.  He also announced the government would send approximately £12 million to rebuild homes destroyed in the fighting and to compensate the families of those killed in the fighting.

On 15 August the Indian government announced it had lifted the state of emergency and said it would close the refugee camps.  However, church aid agencies report that many of those living in the refugee camps have become ill with dysentery and twenty-two people have died so far in the camps, while around 8,000 children are sick, according to government figures.

Many also now have no place to go.  “Most of the displaced fled with nothing,” says Zubin Zaman from Oxfam India. “Sanitation has to be stepped up with better hygiene practices, access to clean water and more toilets. There is also a need for bedding, clothing, mosquito nets and tarpaulin sheets.”

Survivors say they cannot live in such conditions, but add that it is better than dying at the hands of armed mobs.

“We do not want to live like this, but we will not go back. The security forces cannot protect us. They cannot be there 24 hours a day, guarding us,” says Barendra Brahma, 70, a retired school teacher in a camp in the town of Kokrajhar.

“I was born in that village. If I go back now, it will only be to die,” she told Relief.Net.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Re-branding for Australian church aid agency: The Church of England Newspaper, June 24, 2012 p 4. June 27, 2012

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The Australian church aid agency, Anglicord , has adopted a new name and logo.  The Melbourne-based Church Aid agency announced last week that it would now be called “Anglican Overseas Aid”.

Anglican Overseas Aid’s CEO, Misha Coleman said the re-branding came in “response to supporter feedback that our name needs to better reflect what we do, which is to work through Anglican connections to reduce poverty in some of the world’s poorest communities,  in some of the most difficult to reach locations.”

“We accept that our name should say what we do,” Ms Coleman said, adding that the agency also believed it was necessary to adopt a new name to differentiate its work from that of other church organizations.  A spokesman said the agency sought to “remove the confusion between ourselves and other Anglican agencies, which is an ongoing issue at the broader public and government levels” in Australia.

The name change, and a move to new offices, will not change the mission or ministry of Anglican Overseas Aid, Ms. Coleman said.  “We still have the same commitment to our vision of a world free of poverty and for justice and peace for all.”

The foreign aid arm of the Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Overseas Aid raised approximately A$2.2 million to support education, relief and development programmes in Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Brazilian bishop elected vice-moderator of ACT Alliance: The Church of England Newspaper, Nov 5, 2010 p 6 November 11, 2010

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A file photo of Bishop-elect da Silva (left) celebrating the Eucharist with the primate of the IEAB, Archbishop Orlando Santos de Oliveira in 2006

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Provincial Secretary of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB) Canon Francisco de Assis da Silva, has been elected vice-moderator of the ecumenical relief agency ACT Alliance at the organization’s annual meeting held on Oct 26 in Arusha, Tanzania.

The previous day, the Diocese of Southwestern Brazil elected Canon da Silva bishop-coadjutor at a special meeting of the diocesan synod held in Santa Maria, in the Rio Grande do Sul state in southern Brazil.  Canon da Silva was elected bishop-coadjutor after the first round of voting, and will succeed the Rt. Rev. Jubal Neves as bishop upon the latter’s retirement.

A lawyer by training, Bishop-elect da Silva was educated at the Northern Brazil Baptist Seminary and was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood in Recife in 1991.  The new bishop served as rector of St Mary’s Church in Belém do Pará and at All Saints’ Church in Novo Hamburgo, Rio Grande do Sul and from 2003 to 2006 was president of the IEAB Synod’s House of Clergy and Laity.

The Geneva based ACT Alliance has over 100 member churches and NGOs and is at work in 130 countries providing long-term development and humanitarian assistance.  According to its website, the agency last year dispersed $1.5 billion in aid through its members in a quest towork together for positive and sustainable change in the lives of people affected by poverty and injustice through coordinated and effective humanitarian, development and advocacy work.”

Taliban kill ten Western aid workers: The Church of England Newspaper, Aug 13 2010 p 1. August 14, 2010

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Ten members of Christian medical charity working in Afghanistan have been murdered by the Taliban.

On Aug 6, the bodies of ten members of the International Assistance Mission (IAM) were found in Badakhshan north of Kabul.  The ten: six Americans, two Afghans, one German, and a Briton, Dr. Karen Woo, a general surgeon from London, were murdered as they were returning from a medical mission to Nuristan in the Hindu Kush.  One member of their team, an Afghan driver, survived after convincing the killers he was a Muslim.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the killings, saying the ten were spies and Christian missionaries, seeking to proselytize Afghans.

However, in an Aug 9 press conference in Kabul, IAM executive director Dirk Frans said the team was not seeking to convert Muslims.

“IAM is a Christian organization – we have never hidden this,” Mr. Frans said, and “our faith motivates and inspires us – but we do not proselytize.”

“We abide by the laws of Afghanistan.  We are signatures of the Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs Disaster Response Programmes, in other words, that, “aid will not be used to further a particular political or religious standpoint.”  But more than that, our record speaks for itself,” he said.

IAM would not pull out of Afghanistan, Mr. Frans said.  “Our NGO has worked here for well over four decades. And we remember that there were times when security was much worse than it is now.   IAM works in Afghanistan as the guest of the people and the government. As long as we are welcome here, we will, God-willing, continue to stay and serve the Afghan people,” he said.

Dr. Karen Woo, 36, the lone Briton among the dead, had left private practice in London to provide maternal health care in Afghanistan and was planning to leave in a few weeks to get married, friends said.

“Her motivation was purely humanitarian. She was a humanist and had no religious or political agenda,” her family said in a statement.

Christian Aid denies it was duped into financing the Ethiopian civil war: The Church of England Newspaper, March 31, 2010. April 8, 2010

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Christian Aid has disputed claims made in BBC documentary that 95 per cent of funds sent to Ethiopia for famine relief in the 1980’s were used by rebels to purchase arms.

“We are confident that aid got to millions of people who needed it,” the aid agency said last week.

“It would be wrong to claim that no money was ever diverted in such a situation of active conflict. However, the uncorroborated allegation, made by a former rebel leader in the BBC report, that 95 percent of $100 million aid for famine victims in Tigray in 1985 was misused is grossly inflated. There is no credible evidence that this figure – or any figure remotely close to it – is accurate,” a statement released by Christian Aid said.

On March 3, Martin Plaut of the BBC reported that former rebel leaders claimed that almost all of the £63m raised by charities including Band Aid—the relief effort led by pop star Bob Geldof, was used to purchase arms. A former Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel leader, Gebremedhin Araya, who currently lives in Australia, told the BBC that guerillas tricked aid agencies into financing the Ethiopian civil war.

The BBC also cited a 1985 CIA report that concluded “some funds that insurgent organisations are raising for relief operations, as a result of increased world publicity, are almost certainly being diverted for military purposes.”

Christian Aid, Oxfram, Save the Children and other NGOs poured millions of dollars into Northern Ethiopia and Eritrea in the mid 1980’s to combat one of Africa’s severest man-made famines. Christian Aid said that “money sent to Ethiopia in the mid eighties saved hundred of thousands of lives. The British public should feel justifiably proud of the very generous contribution they made to this.”

“We welcome public scrutiny of aid distribution and media investigations including those by the BBC,” Christian Aid said.

However, the claims made in the report were “absurd.”

“Christian Aid’s experienced emergency team on the ground imposed stringent assessment criteria and the use of all donated money was carefully monitored through progress reports and rigorous accounting,” Max Peberdy of Christian Aid said.

“These claims are outrageous and very damaging and there is far more evidence that the money was channeled to where it should have been than there is for these inaccurate allegations,” said Peberdy, whom the BBC claimed was one of the aid officials duped by rebels.

Band Aid’s Penny Jenden stated, “If this money had been diverted to rebels and not used to buy food you would have had thousands of people lying dead at the side of the road. The fact that there was no major death toll or mass migration clearly demonstrates that the money was not diverted.”

Anger as funding is taken away from Anglican charity: CEN 12.18.09 p 5. January 2, 2010

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The Anglican Church of Canada has urged its members to lobby parliament and the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to restore funding to Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice, a church affiliated social justice organization.

On Nov 30 a spokesman for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) said that “after completing due diligence it was determined that [KAIROS’] project does not meet CIDA’s current priorities.”

Last week the Canadian House of Bishops and Council of General Synod passed resolutions “deploring” the decision, and urged the government to reconsider.

A coalition of 11 church groups including the Anglican and Presbyterian churches and the Mennonite Central Committee, Kairos seeks to affect “social change through advocacy, education and research programs in: Ecological Justice, Economic Justice, Energy and Extraction, Human Rights, Just and Sustainable Livelihoods, and Indigenous Peoples.”

However, NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based monitoring agency noted Kairos used government funds to promote an anti-Israel “political agenda.”

CIDA rejected the NGO’s application for a C$7 million/four-year grant, a decision that “terminates a 35-year history of cooperation between CIDA and KAIROS and its predecessor organizations.” Kairos said.

“Many of the issues we deal with are sensitive, from the point of view of the current government,” Kairos executive director Mary Corkery told the Toronto Star.

“There are people who would say all of the issues we deal with are sensitive issues. That’s the point. They’re issues that are absolutely crucial to people’s survival in the South, and people in the North are often contributing in one way, directly or indirectly.”

However, NGO Monitor reported that Kairos had crossed the line separating education and political advocacy. During the Dec 2008 Gazas conflict, KAIROS wrote to Prime Minister Harper alleging that “[o]ne and a half million people living under illegal occupation…have no escape from being bombed as punishment for violent acts they did not commit.”

NGO Monitor accused Kairos of blaming Israel for Palestinian violence and noted that in a second letter to the prime minister, the NGO had claimed “Canada has an obligation to speak out against this collective punishment of the people in Gaza,” and criticized the Canadian government’s stance in opposing UN Human rights Council resolutions attacking Israel.

Hamas’ rocket “attacks in no way justify this siege” of Gaza, Kairos argued, accusing Israel of perpetrating war crimes against the Palestinians.

NGO Monitor also accused Kairos of being a “main supporter of the anti-Israel divestment movement in Canada, coordinating this agenda on behalf of member church groups.”

The Anglican Church of Canada, however, argued that if the funding cut was not reversed it would have a “devastating impact on Canadian education programs and Kairos international partners, many of whom face human rights and humanitarian crises. Their work includes monitoring the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan, holding government accountable for military abuses in Indonesia, and supporting women’s rights in Colombia.”

Diocese partners with bank to distribute mosquito nets: CEN 10.23.09 p 8. October 24, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of West Africa, Health/HIV-AIDS, NGOs.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Diocese of Bo has partnered with the Standard Chartered Bank to distribute 16,000 mosquito nets in the Bo and Pujehon districts of Sierra Leone as part of the “Nets for Life” programme.

An initiative of Episcopal Relief & Development, Nets for Life works with local partners in Africa to distribute long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) to stop the spread of malaria.

The World Health Organization estimates there are approximately 250 million cases of malaria each year, the majority occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly one million people die from the mosquito-born disease each year, mostly children younger than five years old.

Diocese partners with bank to distribute mosquito nets

Ninety per cent of all malaria deaths occur in Africa, and the disease also retards economic growth, costing an estimated $12 billion in lost productivity in Africa each year, ERD reports.

The Nets for Life programme is active in 17 African countries and has benefited more than 11 million people, ERD stated. Partners in the distribution programme include ExxonMobil, Standard Chartered Bank, the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, Starr International Foundation and the White Flowers Foundation.

The CEO of Standard Chartered Bank in Sierra Leone, Albert Saltson, said that in addition to the nets, the programme will provide training in the prevention of the disease. “Standard Chartered Bank is committed to fighting malaria in Africa because its effects kills and also slows the very economies in Africa that we are helping to develop,” he told the local media.

The Rt Rev Emmanuel JS Tucker, Bishop of Bo said the diocese would ensure an equitable distribution of the nets, and would coordinate the anti-malaria education campaign in the largely rural Southern Province of Sierra Leone.

Charity ordered to cut links with al-Qaradawi organisation: CEN 3.20.09 p 10. March 19, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Israel, NGOs.
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A member of the Interfaith Group for Morally Responsible Investment (IMRI) has come under sharp criticism from the Charity Commissioners and has been ordered to break off relations with an organization headed by radical Muslim cleric Yusuf Al-Qaradwi.

The trustees of Interpal—which has been banned in the US, Canada and Australia for its links to the terrorist group Hamas—had “not taken sufficiently rigorous steps to investigate allegations about some of their partner organizations”; had not “put in place adequate due diligence and monitoring procedures to be satisfied that these organisations were not promoting terrorist ideologies or activities”; and had “not adequately managed” its relationship with Al-Qaradwi’s “the Union for Good.”

The Charity Commissioners “concluded that the charity’s continued membership of the Union for Good was not appropriate.” However the commission said there was insufficient evidence presented to its investigators to substantiate claims that beneficiaries were promoting terrorism.

Interpal and the IMRI have been at the forefront of lobbying efforts before the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group and General Synod calling for divestment from Israel.

A London-based charity set up in the early 1990’s to provide healthcare to refugees in the West Bank, Interpal was investigated by the Charity Commission in 1996 and in 2003 after allegations that it its funds were sent to Hamas, and the current investigation was prompted by a 2006 Panorama programme which reported that some of its funds had gone to Hamas supporters. No evidence however has been unearthed by the Charity Commissioners in support of these charges.

However in 2003 the US and Australian governments banned Interpal followed by the Canadian government in 2006, stating they believed it to be a front organization for Hamas and terrorist financing.

While it could not substantiate these charges, the Charity Commission said Interpal “must disassociate itself” from the Union for Good led by Al-Qaradawi. Its association with Al-Qaradwi, who “promoted violence as a legitimate form of resistance in support of the Palestinian cause” was questionable the commission said.

The Rev. Stephen Sizer, vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water told The Church of England Newspaper, that although he could not speak for IMRI, “for the third time the Charity Commissioners have vindicated Interpal and I am delighted to be associated with their charitable and humanitarian work. ”

The inquiry found that “there has been nothing brought to the inquiry’s attention that suggests that the charity’s funding has been siphoned off for inappropriate or non-charitable purposes,” he said. “Please can we leave these folk to get on with their vital humanitarian work?”

Tony Blair launches course at Yale Divinity School: CEN 9.26.08 p 6. September 28, 2008

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Class has opened for Prof. Tony Blair’s course on “Faith and Globalization” at Yale Divinity School.

On Sep 19 the former prime minister taught his first seminar and participated in a question and answer session with University President Richard Levin before a student audience—offering his insights on the role religion should play in the coming world order.

From amongst those who sought to enroll in his weekly class, 25 students were selected: six from the University’s Divinity School, six from the business school, six undergraduates, and seven selected by lottery from the rest of the University.

In his evening lecture, Blair spoke to many of the themes raised in his class, taught in conjunction with Divinity School Professor Miroslav Volf. “Globalization is a force that pushes people together,” he said. “If religion becomes a force that pulls people apart, then it becomes a threat to the way the 21st century works.”

However by establishing a system of ethical values, religion can serve to humanize and civilize the process of globalization, the former prime minister said.

In response to student’s questions, President Levin said Blair was only receiving “a very nominal fee” for teaching his course, but the university had made a $200,000 donation to his foundation.

Blair defended his handling of the Iraq war, but noted his decision had been unpopular. Questions over the wisdom of his decision to support the invasion of Iraq was “where the audience gets divided into a small number – me and the rest,” he said.

However, the war in Iraq was part of the larger struggle against religious and political extremism in the Middle East. Britain and the US and their allies were fighting the same enemy in Afghanistan as in Iraq.

“People understand this is not easy on either side,” he said. “Do I ever have doubt or hesitation? Of course. But you have to do what you believe is right, and that’s what I did,” he said.

Blair’s new mission: peace through faith: CEN 6.06.08 p 5. June 7, 2008

Posted by geoconger in British Foreign Policy, Church of England Newspaper, NGOs, Politics.
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FORMER Prime Minister Tony Blair launched his “Tony Blair Faith Foundation” in New York last week to combat poverty, war and bring harmony to the world religions.

“The characteristic of today’s world is change. The consequence is a world opening up and becoming inter-dependent,” Mr Blair said on May 30. “The conclusion is that we make sense of this inter-dependence through peaceful co-existence and working together to resolve common challenges.”

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Tony Blair launches new Faith Foundation

Coca-Cola teams up with Christian Aid: CEN 3.14.08 p 6. March 16, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Health/HIV-AIDS, NGOs.
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Christian Aid’s “Nets for Life” anti-malaria programme had its formal Nigerian launch last week in Abuja.

Nigerian government ministers, Church, NGO and business leaders kicked off the campaign on Feb 28, which seeks to distribute 82,500 mosquito nets treated with insecticide to malaria prone regions of the country. The programme is underwritten by grants from Coca-Cola, ExxonMobile and the Standard Chartered Bank in partnership with Christian Aid and Episcopal Relief and Development.

Malaria was the leading cause of illness in Nigeria, the Director General of Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control told the gathering. Half of Nigeria’s adults would have an attack brought on by the illness each year while children would have three to four attacks each year Dr. Dora Akunyili said. The disease was so prevalent that seven in ten hospital admissions in Nigeria were due to malaria.

The executive director of ExxonMobile Nigeria told the gathering his company had invested almost £20 million in malaria projects across Africa and would pledge a further £5 million in 2008.

“Science tells us that the malaria parasite thrives on disorganized human systems. But it can be defeated through collaboration. Nets for Life are exactly the type of collaborative effort that can have real impact in combating malaria”, ExxonMobil’s Cyril Odu said, according to local press reports.

Christopher Knight, the chief executive officer of Standard Chartered Bank said malaria cost Africa over £6 billion a year and was a “major constraint to sustainable economic development.”

In 2006 his company had set a goal of distributing 1 million mosquito nets across Africa. Working with the Church of Nigeria and community leaders, Nets for Life started a pilot programme in the Plateau and Benue states that had distributed 11,000 treated nets last year.

The Archbishop of Jos, Dr. Benjamin Kwashie thanked the companies for their work, saying it was a good start to beating back the disease.

“The funds invested in this project might not be enough, but God works in miraculous ways for more people to be touched. In caring and in doing good, you might not know who is being touched, but God returns the goodness in many more ways”, Archbishop Kwashie said.

Burmese elections denounced: CEN 2.13.08 February 13, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Myanmar, Church of England Newspaper, Civil Rights, NGOs, Politics.
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THE SNAP elections announced by the Burmese government have been denounced by Church groups and democracy activists as a ruse to legitimise the military junta’s hold over the country.

“Far from being a positive development, this timetable [for elections] will simply rubber-stamp the authority of this brutal regime,” the Chief Executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) Mervyn Thomas said on Feb 11.

On Feb 9 state radio announced that a referendum would be held in May on a proposed constitution for the “Union of Myanmar”, formally known as Burma, followed by General Elections in 2010.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

Burmese elections denounced

Water threat looms in Zimbabwe: CEN 11.16.07 p 7. November 18, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Disaster Relief, NGOs, Politics, Zimbabwe.
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robert_mugabe.jpgZimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo, is set to run out of water, the British relief agency Tearfund reports.

Four of the five reservoirs that supply the city of 1.5 million have run dry, and the government has refused to come to the people’s aid unless the opposition led Bulawayo city council turns over the city’s water department to the control of the Zimbabwe National Water Authority.

“Churches in Bulawayo”, an interfaith alliance, has stepped in with the support of the city by setting up water tanks at churches to supply potable water for the city’s residents: a solution that observers see as too little too late.

“The crisis in Bulawayo has seen people scavenging for filthy water from hand-dug pits and broken pipes,” Tearfund’s international director Peter Grant said. “People are living on nothing more than cups of tea with the last of their maize meal now gone,” he said.

Water and sewer revenues generated almost 80 percent of the city’s income last year. Turning over the water department the national government would cripple one of the last opposition strongholds to the Mugabe regime, and would do little to resolve the crisis as the regime has no foreign currency reserves to fund construction projects to alleviate the shortage.

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York estimates that Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rate exceeds 10,000 percent, four of every five adults are jobless, and that gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has shrunk by over 46 percent since 1998.

The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that more than one-third of all Zimbabweans will need food assistance by early 2008. Approximately three million Zimbabweans have fled their country, accounting for roughly one-quarter of the total population. Remittances from expatriates, international food aid, and support from churches and NGOs keep the country alive, the CFR said.

“Zimbabwe doesn’t have to be like this.” Mr. Grant said. “Churches are working tirelessly to bridge the gap, meeting the acute need. Despite the spiralling economic crisis they are bringing relief and hope. But they urgently need our help for this work to continue.”

Government is ‘failing Africa’: CEN 11.16.07 p 7. November 17, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of the Congo, Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, House of Lords, NGOs.
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bishop-of-winchester_p6_1_.jpgThe Bishop of Winchester has lambasted the government for backing away from its commitments toward Africa. Bishop Michael Scott-Joynt told the House of Lords on Nov 7 his ears were “cocked for one word in particular-Africa-but cocked in vain,” as he listened to the Queen’s speech.

Bishop Scott-Joynt urged the government to turn its attention towards the Congo and address the on-going instability in the Great Lakes Region of East Africa.

He asked the government what it was doing to ensure land reform, the demobilization of militias, and the support of nascent democratic institutions. Why would it not “funnel aid through church-based organisations? How [did] the Government view the contemporary scramble for Africa by China and a range of Islamic states?”, he asked.

He asked the government to tell Parliament who was funding the wars across the region, “because it would be good to get to the bottom of the matter.”

“Who is running the Great Lakes region,” Bishop Scott-Joynt demanded to know.

“Human rights abuses and impunity from them” were the rule in the Congo, he said. While there had been great strides in democratic reform, the “the place is very little better,” he said.

“There is a crying need for the accountability of the justice and police systems to be worked at and, if security sector reform is not given priority, there will be no peace and security within Congo or along and across its borders, no containing of pillage of mineral resources, and no working at good relationships with the countries of the Great Lakes region,” Bishop Scott-Joynt argued.

He asked the government where had “gone the front-line commitment-the concentration of the last Prime Minister and the present one when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the Commission for Africa?”

It had been fobbed off “to a thing called the Africa Partnership Forum, whose latest report the Government have not thought worth bringing to Parliament,” Bishop Scott-Joynt said.

Stability and nation-building in the Great Lakes Region was a matter “of deepest urgency” he said, urging the government to honor its commitments to the people of Africa.

Call for Uganda action: CEN 11.02.07 p 4. November 7, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Uganda, House of Lords, NGOs.
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THE GOVERNMENT has been questioned over its efforts to ensure access for aid agencies to the people of Northern Uganda.

The call came from the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Rev John Gladwin, who also serves as chairman of Christian Aid, on Oct 29 asked Baroness Vandera, a DfID Minister, if the government was talking to the Ugandan authorities to help development agencies operate there.

The question arose during a debate initiated by Baroness Cox on the government’s support for the peace process in Northern Uganda. Baroness Vandera said the bishop’s concerns were well stated, as a recent report from the World Food Programme found that food aid was not reaching an estimated 150,000 people.

The British government was responding to the problem by providing ‘support for emergency rations to be airlifted to areas that were not accessible by road. Efforts have also been made to improve road access,’ she said with Britain ‘bearing some of the costs of engineering to rebuild some of the roads to ensure that access is available for basic services.’

Baroness Cox urged the government to ‘make peace a priority’ in Northern Uganda.

Christian Aid denies it is biased in the Middle East: CEN 9.14.07 p 8. September 17, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Diplomatic & Foreign Affairs, Israel, NGOs.
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The relief agency Christian Aid has denied charges made by an Israeli research group that its reporting of events in the Middle East was biased, unfairly blaming Israel for the problems of the region.

NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem think tank, charged the relief agency promoted a pro-Palestinian agenda, and that its advocacy work abetted the conflict between Arabs and Israelis.

Christian Aid denied the charge of bias telling The Church of England Newspaper that “criticising the Israeli government for some of its policies, which we believe contribute to Palestinian poverty, is not the same as being hostile to the state of Israel.”

In a paper released on Aug 22 NGO Monitor stated Christian Aid offered a tendentious perspective of the conflict in the Middle East. It “minimizes terrorism and Palestinian responsibility for violence and corruption,” it said. The charity’s literature selectively uses legal terminology such as “war crimes” and “collective punishment” in its description of events and illustrates these charges with “highly emotive, yet unverifiable anecdotal accounts” of the conflict.

Christian Aid’s evidence of Israeli perfidy came from the “claims of highly politicized” Palestinian NGOs that lacked “credibility” it charged.

“These practices constitute a violation of Christian Aid’s stated position of being an ‘impartial’ group working toward peace and the alleviation of poverty. This one-sided political agenda is entirely inconsistent with the status of a registered charity,” NGO Monitor charged.

Christian Aid engaged in a “moral equivalency” that omitted the “context of terror.” Its “practice of blaming Israel for Palestinian hardship and for relieving Palestinians from responsibility for their own fate is incompatible with its objective of impartiality,” NGO Monitor said. Its “one-sided political agenda” was inconsistent with its charitable purpose.

A spokesman for Christian Aid denied the charge of bias, stating that while its work in the Middle East “can often be a source of contention” it remained “proud of our partners on the ground.”

Christian Aid’s Middle East and Afghanistan coordinator Sarah Malian said the organization was neither pro-Israeli nor pro-Palestinian, but “pro justice, pro peace, and pro poverty eradication.”

“We speak out on behalf of those who are living in abject poverty, who are marginalised and suffer human rights violations,” Ms Malian said. Christian Aid’s condemned all violence and its mandate is to expose the scandal of poverty, contribute to its eradication and to challenge structures and systems that keep people poor and marginalised.”

She said that many of the “root causes” of poverty, however, have “political dimensions” and “Palestinian poverty is no exception” noting the agency challenged governments on issues “directly linked to poverty.”

EU Urged to Keep its Promise on MDGs: CEN 8.17.07 p 5. August 18, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Development/Economics/Govt Finances, EU, NGOs.
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THE PRIMATE of Southern Africa has called upon the European Union to live up to its promises of support for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane also urged Africa to honour its commitment to tackle poverty and called upon the continent’s political leaders to make good their pledges of support for the poorest of the poor.

Chairman of the African Monitor, an NGO that monitors relief and development work across Africa, Archbishop Ndungane told SABC, “African countries have said they want to designate 15 per cent of their budgets to health and 10 per cent for agriculture and they are falling short of these targets.”

EU urged to honour MDG commitment

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper

NGO Gets New Leader: CEN 8.03.07 p 7. August 2, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Mission Societies/Religious Orders, NGOs.
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Five Talents International, the Anglican micro-credit NGO, has elected a former World Bank executive as chairman of its board of trustees. Frederick Kalema-Musoke will succeed CANA Bishop the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns as chairman, the July 25 announcement from the Washington-based NGO said.

A Ugandan national, Mr. Kalema-Musoke recently retired as a financial management consultant with The World Bank Group. “After more than 25 years in development finance at the World Bank, I see that God has been preparing me for this new role as chairman through a variety of experiences in developing countries and in my own spiritual journey,” he said.

The new chairman will oversee the Anglican NGO’s expanding micro-credit operations, while maintaining a focus on mission and partnership with the Church in the developing world.

Bishop Minns, who co-founded the organization in 1999, stated the “most important accomplishment” of Five Talents was that it had “transformed lives and changed communities.”

“I don’t think we ever dreamed of the worldwide impact we are making,” he said.

Vatican Tells Catholics to Withdraw Support for Amnesty International: CEN 6.19.07 June 24, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Abortion/Euthanasia/Biotechnology, Church of England Newspaper, NGOs, Roman Catholic Church.
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The Vatican has urged Roman Catholics to withdraw support from Amnesty International [AI] due to the international human rights advocacy group’s support for abortion.”By pushing for the decriminalisation of abortion as part of their platform, Amnesty International has disqualified itself as a defender of human rights,” Cardinal Renato Martin, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, told an American Roman Catholic newspaper last week. Vatican tells Catholics to withdraw support for Amnesty

Read it all at Religious Intelligence/The Church of England Newspaper