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■ From tinsel to truth: appeal for a caring, sharing Christmas

■ Campaigns: how your suppport has led to policy breakthroughs

■ Plus: Gordon Brown, Bishop John Gladwin and Diarmuid Gavin

Do they know it’s Christmas? From the humanitarian crisis in Darfur to Tamil refugees fleeing fighting in Sri Lanka, Christian Aid is responding to the challenges posed by war – and peace

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Winter 2006

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Christian Aid/Tom Petrasik

This Christmas, your church can give a gift that matters A new way to engage your church, youth group or school this Christmas – and raise money for some of the world’s poorest communities. Order the free Christian Aid Christmas resource pack to find out more about the range of gifts on offer. Free materials include: a guide packed with ideas, such as how to build a ‘virtual nativity’ of gifts an A3 poster gift envelopes star decorations to use as alternative Christmas cards or in prayer Present Aid catalogue.

We believe in life before death

To order or download our free resources, go to www.christianaid.org.uk or call 080 80 005 005. www.presentaid.org


UK registered charity number 1105851 Company number 5171525 Republic of Ireland charity number CHY 6998

Editor’s letter

Christian Aid News is printed on 100 per cent recycled paper

≤ F1341

An audio version of this issue is available. Call 08700 787 788 for details

■ 10 SPECIAL REPORT REGULARS ■ 4 NEWS Christmas Appeal... drought crisis in Afghanistan... a campaign hat trick... and other stories ■ 8 OPINION The Chancellor, Gordon Brown, writes about new initiatives in the fight against poverty and injustice ■ 20 CAMPAIGNS: 4-PAGE SPECIAL There was £50 million worth of good news for Christian Aid supporters who gathered in London for a march on the Treasury ■ 22 CAMPAIGNS: ON THE ROAD During one of the hottest summers on record, Christian Aid didn’t laze around working on its tan, but took its campaign for trade justice to the country’s top pop festivals ■ 24 REFLECTION Chair of the Christian Aid board Bishop John Gladwin asks: are we Christian enough, relevant to today’s issues and too political?

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■ 26 DO THE RIGHT THING Praise for Christian Aid’s eco-house and garden... a recycling drive... and Present Aid ideas for Christmas

Picture: Christian Aid/Tom Pietrasik

A YEAR AGO I used an image from one of the many refugee camps in Darfur on the cover of Christian Aid News. Twelve months on, the tragedy that has been called ‘the world’s worst humanitarian crisis’ again provides a haunting front-page reminder that whatever nature can inflict upon us, noone does a disaster better than mankind itself. Tsunamis come and earthquakes go, but despite the appalling loss of life and suffering natural disasters leave in their wake, things do – slowly, and not without a huge effort in relief and reconstruction – get better, as our updates on rebuilding work in Pakistan and India show. The point is that whenever nature does her worst, man usually does his best. But nothing beats the self-inflicted wounds of a war for heaping prolonged suffering upon millions of people. Again, it’s the poor and the most vulnerable who bear the brunt of our apparent inability to solve a crisis without bombs and guns. In a special nine-page report, Christian Aid staff report on how we are responding to the challenges of war and peace – helping those displaced by fighting such as Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka and the thousands living in camps in Darfur, supporting long-term peace projects in Sierra Leone, and trying to change attitudes towards women’s rights in Afghanistan. Elsewhere, we report on some notable successes on the campaigning front and look back at how the trade justice message hit the road this summer. Finally, even with the sun still shining warmly through my window, it really is time to think about Christmas. But if the prospect of consumer overload is depressing you, don’t forget our Christmas appeal (see page 4), and do your shopping via our Present Aid catalogue, where your gifts can help bring lasting change to those who need it most. Roger Fulton, editor

Contents Winter 2006 Issue 34

■ 28 INPUT Your letters and emails ■ 29 EVENTS Where to go and what to see ■ 30 FINAL WORD With Diarmuid Gavin, plus a life-giving partnership

FEATURES ■ 10 SPECIAL REPORT: WAR AND PEACE Stories from around the world on work being done to help people rebuild lives broken by conflicts from Sudan to Sri Lanka (above), Lebanon to Sierra Leone ■ 19 NEWS EXTRA: TSUNAMI RELIEF How Christian Aid is targeting its help towards the most needy

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Christian Aid works with the world’s poorest people in more than 50 countries, regardless of race or faith. We tackle the causes and consequences of poverty and injustice. We are part of ACT International, the ecumenical relief network.

■ Cover Young refugees in a Darfur camp. Picture: Christian Aid/David Rose ■ Pictures Robin Prime ■ Subeditor Louise Parfitt ■ Circulation Ben Hayward ■ Design & production David Lloyd/Circle Publishing, 020 8332 2709 ■ Christian Aid head office 35 Lower Marsh, London SE1 7RL ■ Tel 020 7620 4444 ■ Fax 020 7620 0719 ■ Email info@christian-aid.org ■ Stay in touch with us online > News, campaigns and resources www.christianaid.org.uk ■ Christian and ethical service provider www.surefish.co.uk ■ Children and schools www.globalgang.org.uk ■ Our campaigning and student website www.pressureworks.org

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Christmas appeal

■ Afghan drought

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Make a point this Christmas ‘CHRISTMAS IS pointless if we can’t share it with our neighbours’ – that’s the theme of this year’s Christian Aid Christmas appeal. It’s easy to feel pressured into spending money at Christmas. Presents in the shops, children clamouring for the latest toy, food magazines persuading us

to put on a sumptuous spread. Sometimes it can all feel rather pointless. The appeal’s letters and advertisements will tap into this feeling of wanting something more, asking, ‘Is Christmas really dead? Has its true meaning been buried under the tinsel and trappings?’ It will acknowledge that Christian Aid supporters

know there is something more to the season of goodwill – something that will compel people to divert a few pounds away from toys or food. For instance, in Kyrgyzstan in central Asia, £30 buys six good-quality blankets for people who are living in temperatures of –20˚C with no heating – people like Nikolai and his

wife Lapina, who readers may remember from our Spring issue. A local self-help network, supported by Christian Aid partner the Resource Centre for the Elderly, has brought them blankets, bread and milk. But Nikolai and Lapina are just the tip of a very large iceberg, and the Resource Centre for the Elderly would like to do the same for many others like them. By continuing its work through local networks, Christian Aid is also lobbying for decent, more reliable pensions for all older people across Central Asia, giving them hope for a better future. In Malawi, £30 would buy six months supply of soap and painkillers for people who are sick, while in the Gaza Strip it would pay for 200 fruit tree seedlings to help farmers who have lost their crops in the conflict get back on their feet. With money spent this way, Christmas doesn’t need to be pointless.

Above left: Help is needed for old people in Kyrgyzstan, such as Nikolai

Pictures: Christian Aid/Steven Buckley; Christian Aid/Sarah Malian; moonjumper.com

Drought crisis grips Afghanistan UP TO 2.5 million people are facing acute food shortages due to a severe drought affecting harvests throughout the north, west and central regions of Afghanistan. Another 6.5 million people face long-term shortages due to a lack of rainfall. An assessment carried out by Christian Aid along with sister agencies from the global alliance Action by Churches Together (ACT) has discovered the shocking impact of the drought in the provinces of Badghis, Bamiyan, Farah, Faryab, Herat, Ghor and Wardak. There are reports of people in rural areas walking more than ten kilometres a day to fetch water. Livestock, which are often the only source of income for their owners, are either dying of thirst or being sold in desperation, giving people nothing to fall back on over the bitterly cold winter months. Christian Aid and its ACT partners are responding by providing water, cash-for-work projects and fodder for livestock. There are also plans to create water reservoirs within

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communities to help minimise the impact of future drought. An increase in attacks this year on aid workers – more than 30 were killed in the first eight months of 2006 – is severely restricting the freedom of movement for NGOs in many parts of the country. Christian Aid has taken extra steps to ensure the safety of its staff. Despite the high risks faced by our partners, two of whom have lost staff in attacks in recent months (Rural Rehabilitation Association, Afghanistan and Co-ordination of Humanitarian Assistance), they continue to work in most areas. Christian Aid continues to monitor closely the impact on civilians of the ongoing fighting between the Taliban and Afghan government forces, supported by NATO and the US. Civilians have accounted for more than half the casualties in 2006 according to one source and the insurgency is causing major disruption to people’s daily lives, for instance by forcing the widespread closure of schools in the south.

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■ Skydivers wanted

TALK BACK THE THINGS THEY SAY

Reach for the skies WOULD YOU, or someone you know, enjoy the thrill of jumping out of a plane at 13,000feet – with a parachute, of course? Christian Aid in Ireland, in conjunction with Moonjumper International, is looking for volunteers who are willing to raise funds through a sponsored tandem parachute jump. As well as helping Christian Aid development projects overseas, this is an exciting experience for all participants. It takes place at the Sky Centre outside Garvagh, Co Londonderry (see www.moonjumper.com). Each person has to raise a minimum of £320 in sponsorship – but this isn’t as difficult as you might think! It’s amazing how many people will pay to see you freefall for 60 seconds from 13,000feet, then take seven minutes to float gently to the ground. The jump can take place at a time to suit you, but we would love to have as many jumpers as possible during Christian Aid Week 2007. For more information contact Deborah Doherty on 028 9038 1204, or email ddoherty@christian-aid.org

Global Gang launches online game CHRISTIAN AID’S Global Gang website for schools and children has launched Disaster Watch – an online game that shows children how to limit damage to a local community when disaster strikes. The game is introduced by Felipe, an animated Global Gang member from Nicaragua, who guides players through different disasters his virtual community may face – food shortages, earthquakes and floods. At the end of the game, players are able to read real-life stories featuring children from poor countries who are involved in Christian Aid-funded

projects that help them prepare for disasters and reduce their impact. Global Gang editor Sophie Shirt said: ‘News reports often present those affected by disaster as helpless victims. Disaster Watch aims to teach children that preventative measures can limit the impact of a disaster on poor communities. Ultimately, we want children to realise poor people are suffering as a result of the hefty contribution we make to climate change, and to do something about it.’ You can play the game at www.globalgang.org.uk/disasterwatch

‘We might like to think of the Arab-Israeli conflict as just one regional conflict among many. It is not. No other conflict carries such a powerful symbolic and emotional charge among people far removed from the battlefield. As long as the Palestinians live under occupation, exposed to daily frustration and humiliation; and as long as Israelis are blown up in buses and in dance-halls, so long will passions everywhere be inflamed.’ UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in his farewell address to world leaders

THE THINGS WE SAY ‘Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) being negotiated between the European Union (EU) and blocs of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries contain the worst elements of what was on the table at the World Trade Organisation, forcing weaker states to open their markets too drastically to the economic giant that is the EU. Unless they are reformed, these deals will lock poor countries into trade policies that stand to undo the achievements of debt cancellation and aid packages.’ Charles Abugre, Christian Aid’s head of global advocacy, writing as one of five signatories in a letter to the The Times warning of the effect of EPAs ‘This is genuinely terrifying. It is a death sentence for many millions of people. It will mean migration off the land at levels we have not seen before, and at levels poor countries cannot cope with.’ Climate and development analyst Andrew Pendleton, commenting on a study from the Met Office’s Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, warning that extreme drought will spread across half the land surface of the planet in the coming century

THE THINGS YOU SAY ‘It’s tempting to weary of the constant demands for help when so much is badly used or diverted into private pockets. But as Christians we really have no choice.’ Reader Malcolm Brown, writing to Christian Aid News about corruption and bad governance in Africa. See letters, page 26

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Pakistan quake update

■ Weekly podcasts available

£3 million quake aid helps victims rebuild homes partner organisations, including the Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society, which built earthquake-resistant houses that were praised by the Indian government as a model of rebuilding. More grants are in the process of being made in both Pakistan and India to continue the process of rehabilitation, which could take several years. In

Pakistan, there have been particular challenges to reconstruction – heavy monsoon rains which have caused flooding and landslides, the remote locations of villages with no road access, the mountainous terrain and the rising costs of building materials and labour. Another problem was a huge lack of skilled builders, so CWS decided to train people who were

Top of the pods IF YOU’RE a regular Radio 4 listener, you’ll know that a number of their programmes are available to download as podcasts – audio files that you can play ‘live’ through your computer or download to an mp3 player such as an iPod. Now Christian Aid has created its own series of weekly podcasts. Each episode covers a topic in depth – such as climate change or the geography of debt – and last approximately ten minutes per episode. To play episodes live, just visit the podcast website (details opposite) and click the play button under each episode description. If you want to download the file to your mp3 player, you need to have iTunes or other subscription software installed on your machine, which will allow you to

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Below: Work goes on to rebuild homes lost in the Pakistan earthquake

living in relief camps to help them rebuild their houses and give them new job skills. So far, 300 people have been trained as plumbers, electricians and masons. The Pakistan government has not allowed aid agencies to build permanent homes, but is giving each affected family a grant to rebuild their home to earthquake-resistant standards.

Picture: Christian Aid/Asif Hassan

CHRISTIAN AID has helped thousands of people rebuild their lives following the Pakistan earthquake a year ago. Nearly £3 million of Christian Aid funding has been spent on shelter, water, food, clothing and counselling for people whose lives were devastated by the disaster which killed 75,000 people and left more than three million homeless. More than £2 million has gone to Church World Service (CWS), which has provided relief supplies, shelter and clean water, and sent female doctors and counsellors to remote rural areas. Christian Aid gave more than £500,000 to Islamic Relief, which has built sturdy temporary shelters – insulated to withstand the harsh winter weather – and provided household items, food, blankets and clothes. In Indian Kashmir, where 1,500 were killed and 3,000 left homeless, £250,000 went to three

subscribe to the episodes (free of charge). This method means that whenever a new episode is broadcast it is downloaded automatically to your mp3 player and available for you to listen to at a time that suits you. With 25 episodes already live – including Linda Anderson’s blog from Sri Lanka about life as an aid worker there – Christian Aid podcasts are worth a listen. To listen to the episodes via your computer, or to subscribe to downloads, visit: http://feeds.feedburner.com/christianaidpodcasts ■ For further detailed advice on how to subscribe to podcasts, email info@christian-aid.org

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Keane-eyed view of conflict

■ Campaign boost ■ Surefish

Campaigns hail hat trick of successes

Success: Paul Brannen government like a hawk, but it seems that our demands on trade and company responsibility are being taken seriously, and shows that hard, concerted campaigning by Christian Aid supporters can yield positive results.’ Christian Aid supporters formed a huge proportion of the 100,000 activists who wrote to their MPs and to the government to call for changes to the Companies Bill to make UK companies more transparent and accountable for their activities overseas. Despite opposition by the business lobby, the government has introduced a series of concessions to tighten the bill and companies will now have to include information on the social

and environmental impacts of their suppliers. Christian Aid has also highlighted problems posed by the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). As a result of firm pressure from Christian Aid and others, both Development Minister Gareth Thomas and Trade Minister Ian McCartney championed the issue by raising the concerns of developing countries in a letter to EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson. Alas, Mr Mandelson’s response – to attack his former colleagues and misrepresent the nature of the negotiations – shows that despite winning arguments within UK government, there is still much work to be done on EPAs. ‘We will keep up the pressure on these issues,’ added Paul Brannen. ‘It’s also all eyes down for our big climate change campaign coming soon after the New Year.’ ● Four-page Campaigns special, see page 20

Charity begins at school

MBE for collector

A TEAM of pupils at Torry Academy, Aberdeen have won a major national award for their tireless charity work. Giving Nation, a charity initiative set up to support young people’s awareness about charitable giving, presented this year’s top prize to the academy’s students who raised more than £5,500 this year for charities, including Christian Aid. Alan Millar, supporting teacher, said: ‘I am proud of the pupils. Their passion to do something about injustice and unfairness in the world has been great.’

A CHRISTIAN AID Week organiser from Lincolnshire has been awarded an MBE for services to education and the community. Mr Aquila Peasgood has organised Christian Aid Week collections in Thurlby since 1959, helped by children he recruited from the local primary school. ‘I have appreciated Quil’s faithful support and calm determination to serve Christian Aid in his community,’ said Sue Richardson, area coordinator for Lincolnshire. ‘He is a man of many interests, and is dedicated to all of them.’

Picture: Christian Aid/Karen Hedges

THE UK government has changed its policy on vital issues for poor people no less than three times in the past six months, thanks to some of the most successful campaigning Christian Aid has seen. Breakthrough no 1: Hilary Benn withholds £50 million from the World Bank due to worries that it is still imposing damaging conditions on its loans to poor countries. Breakthrough no 2: The government writes to the European Commission to raise concerns about free-trade agreements being negotiated with former European colonies. Breakthrough no 3: The government accepts concessions aimed at making UK companies more responsible for their overseas behaviour. ‘It’s been a magnificent summer and autumn of action and we are starting to reap the rewards,’ said Christian Aid’s Head of Campaigns Paul Brannen. ‘There’s still a long way to go and we know that we will have to watch the

Christian Aid has commissioned renowned war artist John Keane to produce a series of paintings for a new exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery in autumn 2007, entitled Children in Conflict. Through the eyes of children he met in Angola, his work focuses on the post-conflict issues faced by millions of young people in this war-torn country. John recently visited Angola and spent time with children who had lost parents during the 40-year civil war which ended in 2002.

Commissioned: artist John Keane

Surefish: an apology CHRISTIAN AID would like to apologise to supporters who have encountered problems with their Surefish internet service recently, and who may not have received satisfactory help from the support helpline. We realise that some Surefish customers have been unable to access the internet, sometimes for long periods, and have had difficulties with their email accounts. This is unacceptable and we are sorry for the inconvenience caused. Surefish is in the process of changing technical provider, from RealPoptel, to BT Wholesale. Christian Aid initially chose RealPoptel in 2003 for their ethical credentials. However the service provided was frequently unreliable and too limited in the range of products. We therefore chose to partner with a larger, more-established company with greater resources that could provide a reliable, good-value service for supporters. There were some difficulties with the migration of customers to BT’s new technical platform. These problems have now been resolved and we hope that Surefish customers will benefit from the improved broadband and dial-up packages available. We are working with BT to address the technical support problems, to ensure that Surefish can provide an effective service. Thank you for your patience. Christian Aid News

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Keane-eyed view of conflict

■ Campaign boost ■ Surefish

Campaigns hail hat trick of successes

Success: Paul Brannen government like a hawk, but it seems that our demands on trade and company responsibility are being taken seriously, and shows that hard, concerted campaigning by Christian Aid supporters can yield positive results.’ Christian Aid supporters formed a huge proportion of the 100,000 activists who wrote to their MPs and to the government to call for changes to the Companies Bill to make UK companies more transparent and accountable for their activities overseas. Despite opposition by the business lobby, the government has introduced a series of concessions to tighten the bill and companies will now have to include information on the social

and environmental impacts of their suppliers. Christian Aid has also highlighted problems posed by the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). As a result of firm pressure from Christian Aid and others, both Development Minister Gareth Thomas and Trade Minister Ian McCartney championed the issue by raising the concerns of developing countries in a letter to EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson. Alas, Mr Mandelson’s response – to attack his former colleagues and misrepresent the nature of the negotiations – shows that despite winning arguments within UK government, there is still much work to be done on EPAs. ‘We will keep up the pressure on these issues,’ added Paul Brannen. ‘It’s also all eyes down for our big climate change campaign coming soon after the New Year.’ ● Four-page Campaigns special, see page 20

Charity begins at school

MBE for collector

A TEAM of pupils at Torry Academy, Aberdeen have won a major national award for their tireless charity work. Giving Nation, a charity initiative set up to support young people’s awareness about charitable giving, presented this year’s top prize to the academy’s students who raised more than £5,500 this year for charities, including Christian Aid. Alan Millar, supporting teacher, said: ‘I am proud of the pupils. Their passion to do something about injustice and unfairness in the world has been great.’

A CHRISTIAN AID Week organiser from Lincolnshire has been awarded an MBE for services to education and the community. Mr Aquila Peasgood has organised Christian Aid Week collections in Thurlby since 1959, helped by children he recruited from the local primary school. ‘I have appreciated Quil’s faithful support and calm determination to serve Christian Aid in his community,’ said Sue Richardson, area coordinator for Lincolnshire. ‘He is a man of many interests, and is dedicated to all of them.’

Picture: Christian Aid/Karen Hedges

THE UK government has changed its policy on vital issues for poor people no less than three times in the past six months, thanks to some of the most successful campaigning Christian Aid has seen. Breakthrough no 1: Hilary Benn withholds £50 million from the World Bank due to worries that it is still imposing damaging conditions on its loans to poor countries. Breakthrough no 2: The government writes to the European Commission to raise concerns about free-trade agreements being negotiated with former European colonies. Breakthrough no 3: The government accepts concessions aimed at making UK companies more responsible for their overseas behaviour. ‘It’s been a magnificent summer and autumn of action and we are starting to reap the rewards,’ said Christian Aid’s Head of Campaigns Paul Brannen. ‘There’s still a long way to go and we know that we will have to watch the

Christian Aid has commissioned renowned war artist John Keane to produce a series of paintings for a new exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery in autumn 2007, entitled Children in Conflict. Through the eyes of children he met in Angola, his work focuses on the post-conflict issues faced by millions of young people in this war-torn country. John recently visited Angola and spent time with children who had lost parents during the 40-year civil war which ended in 2002.

Commissioned: artist John Keane

Surefish: an pology CHRISTIAN AID would like to apologise to supporters who have encountered problems with their Surefish internet service recently, and who may not have received satisfactory help from the support helpline. We realise that some Surefish customers have been unable to access the internet, sometimes for long periods, and have had difficulties with their email accounts. This is unacceptable and we are sorry for the inconvenience caused. Surefish is in the process of changing technical provider, from RealPoptel, to BT Wholesale. Christian Aid initially chose RealPoptel in 2003 for their ethical credentials. However the service provided was frequently unreliable and too limited in the range of products. We therefore chose to partner with a larger, more-established company with greater resources that could provide a reliable, good-value service for supporters. There were some difficulties with the migration of customers to BT’s new technical platform. These problems have now been resolved and we hope that Surefish customers will benefit from the improved broadband and dial-up packages available. We are working with BT to address the technical support problems, to ensure that Surefish can provide an effective service. Thank you for your patience. Christian Aid News

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Opinion

We have the power to shape history In the second of our articles by leading figures in the three main political parties, the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, spells out his belief in making ‘the impossible dream’ of defeating poverty and global injustice a reality

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school fees, enrolments increased by 50 per cent. More than one million children who previously had no access to education. More than one million children who now have the opportunity to learn and grow and fulfil their potential. So together we are making real changes to people’s lives, creating empowerment for the future through health, education and opportunity for all. But I want to be clear that while much has been done together, there is still much more to do. As we look to the future we must recognise how much further we need to go in the coming years. Our activities must be stronger.

Everyone deserves a chance to escape disease, illiteracy and poverty

FOR MORE THAN 60 years, Christian Aid has spoken out against global injustice. This is a history to be proud of. From helping refugees after the second world war to the Make Poverty History campaign last year, you have shown what the power of people with a mission can achieve. It is an invaluable contribution and the worthiest of causes. I share the beliefs of each and every one of you. We are not here just as self-interested individuals but as a community bound together by shared needs, mutual responsibilities and linked destinies. In 2005 Make Poverty History forced governments into decisive action to tackle the scandal of poverty. In Singapore just a few weeks ago we achieved debt write-off for 20 countries – total bilateral and multilateral debt write-off could now be as high as US$170 billion. Aid has already increased by around 25 per cent to more than US$100 billion and we are well on the way to the target of US$130 billion by 2010. And because of the work you have done, we can now see how aid and debt relief can make a difference. Zambia has already been able to abolish rural healthcare fees; Tanzania has been able to build almost 2,500 new schools; and Uganda has been able to increase immunisations by more than 40 per cent. Imagine how on just one day when Kenya made primary school free, more than one million children turned up to enrol for school for the first time. And when Malawi abolished

Our actions more powerful and urgent. In 2005 you forced us to make promises on aid. Now in 2006 we must keep our promises. Today 100 million children are not in school, and by 2015 this could rise to 200 million if we do not act. In parts of Africa there is only one doctor for every 50,000 people. So we still have a long way to go if we are to meet our millennium development goals by 2015. But we must achieve these goals. To do this, it is my belief that for the millions of children who are poor and do not go to school, their only hope lies not in fee-paying education they cannot afford but in free public education. It is a

scandal that the world’s poorest people are denied schooling because they cannot afford to pay their fees. And like you, it is also my belief that everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of themselves and of their family. Everyone deserves a chance to escape disease, illiteracy and poverty. Looking to that future, we have taken new initiatives on education and health, to provide aid which is stable, predictable and guaranteed over the long term. Just a few months ago with Nelson Mandela, Britain launched a new ‘education for all’ initiative – asking the richest countries to enter into ten-year agreements with the poorest countries to finance their ten-year plans for free education. And to tackle some of the world’s most deadly diseases the first bonds of the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) were sold last week. The money raised will be spent by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) in more than 70 of the world’s poorest countries. In five years GAVI has already inoculated almost 100 million children, part of a great life-giving movement that has virtually eradicated polio and smallpox. And by giving aid upfront we immediately invest an extra US$4 billion of funds in vaccines. So between now and 2015, 500 million children will be immunised against vaccine-preventable

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Pictures: courtesy HM Treasury

Do you agree with Gordon Brown or share his optimism? Write to the Editor, Christian Aid News, PO Box 100, London SE1 7RT or email canews@christian-aid.org If you would like to discuss this article online, visit www.surefish.co.uk

diseases. Without frontloading, investing this US$4 billion over 15 years would save about 2.8 million lives and leave millions more at risk from infection. So, by investing now, upfront through the IFFIm, we can eliminate disease and save ten million lives. But major challenges remain. On trade, our proposal is for the least-developed countries to decide, plan and sequence reforms to their trade policies in line with their country-led development programmes and international obligations. The stalling of the Doha round of world trade talks this summer was a setback for the world economy, development and poverty reduction. The key World Trade Organisation players need to show bold leadership to revive negotiations. Effective states and better

governance are essential to combat poverty. States which respect civil liberties and are accountable to their citizens are more stable, which in turn means they are more likely to attract investment, generate economic growth and deliver basic services. The UK is committed to improving the capability of state institutions and strengthening accountability to the poor in partner countries. We must also take preventative action now if we are to adapt to some of the now inevitable impacts of climate change – impacts which, like Christian Aid, I believe will be felt more acutely in developing countries. I look forward to receiving the detailed analysis of this problem considered as part of the Stern Review of Climate Change. Looking to the future I don’t

pretend that any of our commitments will be easy to achieve, but our resolve will not be diminished. At times people may look at the difficult challenges and despair. But when people say of our hopes for tackling poverty and global injustice today that we are impossible dreamers, we should remind them that 200 years ago people said we could not abolish slavery. But we did. One hundred years ago, they said we could not secure votes for women. But we did. Twenty years ago they said we could not achieve Nelson Mandela’s release and the end of apartheid. But we did. In each case we demonstrated the truth of the belief upon which our movement was founded: that by acting together we have the power to shape history.

Above: The Chancellor, Gordon Brown, visiting a school in Maputo, Mozambique, in April this year during a trip centred upon the launch of a new global campaign on children’s education Christian Aid News

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In any violent conflict it’s the poor and marginalised who suffer the most. And at the core of any emergency response must be strategies to give people the chance to rebuild broken lives. From the humanitarian crisis in Darfur to the struggle for women’s rights in Afghanistan, Christian Aid staff report on how we are responding to some of the challenges posed by war and the often fragile peace that follows

Darfur: ‘the worst humanitarian crisis in the world’ FIVE IN THE morning and I am awake, the rain hammering on the roof. After the heat of the night it is a relief, but instantly my mind turns to a family of four generations I met yesterday. For them this rain will be a different experience as they huddle under a plastic sheet. I am in Nyala, the main town of south Darfur to see for myself the challenges facing Christian Aid partners in their response to what UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has described as ‘the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.’ Yesterday we travelled to Biliel, one of countless camps across Darfur for internally displaced people where more than two million now live. This camp of 15,000 is managed by the Sudan Social Development Organisation (SUDO), one of three Sudanese bodies through which Christian Aid is responding to this crisis. As we walked through the camp we were greeted with a warm smile by Khadeja, who swept the dust as she welcomed us through the stick fence of her small

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compound. Under a blanket a baby stirred on a bed woven from plastic string. Her mother prepared to offer her some comfort at her breast. Behind, an older woman, Khadeja’s mother, lifted herself to greet us, her frail body at the other end of life to her great-grandchild. We sat with these four generations to hear about their journey to hoped-for safety in this camp, and the daily fear of attack. Their home is made up of four shelters – each constructed of sticks and assorted pieces of boarding. Two are wrapped in plastic sheets, the others are barely covered. There is little shelter from either the baking sun or the heavy rain of the early mornings. The women talked of how water, healthcare, schooling and nutritional support from SUDO are making a difference to their lives. I asked what they most need now? The answer: simply another plastic sheet. Rajab, the camp manager, was straightforward in his response – with more displaced people arriving daily, Khadeja’s family

must wait their turn. Her nod of acceptance conveyed a familiarity with the experience of newcomers. Christian Aid works in Darfur as part of a coalition of 60 international Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic churches and agencies; this unique alliance makes us one of the largest bodies working in Darfur, a region the size of France. This year, Christian Aid contributed more than £1 million to the coalition budget of £8 million (US$15 million). Our partners work in 26 camps and 18 communities and villages; last year the programme worked with nearly 400,000 people, providing basic needs and support for those living with trauma. People in Biliel are under constant threat of theft, murder and rape. The government-backed militia, Janjaweed, and other armed factions are present in the camp and its vicinity. All cultivation in the surrounding land has stopped. Even gathering firewood is no longer safe. People feel that the African Union peacekeeping presence has such limited resources that it gives no

Picture: Christian Aid/David Rose

Darfur, says Kofi Annan, makes a mockery of the international community’s promise to shield people from the worst abuses. Christian Aid’s head of Africa David Pain is under no illusion about the challenges we face in trying to help

Above: The future is still bleak for these children living in a camp in Darfur

Christian Aid News

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In any violent conflict it’s the poor and marginalised who suffer the most. And at the core of any emergency response must be strategies to give people the chance to rebuild broken lives. From the humanitarian crisis in Darfur to the struggle for women’s rights in Afghanistan, Christian Aid staff report on how we are responding to some of the challenges posed by war and the often fragile peace that follows

Darfur: ‘the worst humanitarian crisis in the world’ FIVE IN THE morning and I am awake, the rain hammering on the roof. After the heat of the night it is a relief, but instantly my mind turns to a family of four generations I met yesterday. For them this rain will be a different experience as they huddle under a plastic sheet. I am in Nyala, the main town of south Darfur to see for myself the challenges facing Christian Aid partners in their response to what UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has described as ‘the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.’ Yesterday we travelled to Biliel, one of countless camps across Darfur for internally displaced people where more than two million now live. This camp of 15,000 is managed by the Sudan Social Development Organisation (SUDO), one of three Sudanese bodies through which Christian Aid is responding to this crisis. As we walked through the camp we were greeted with a warm smile by Khadeja, who swept the dust as she welcomed us through the stick fence of her small

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compound. Under a blanket a baby stirred on a bed woven from plastic string. Her mother prepared to offer her some comfort at her breast. Behind, an older woman, Khadeja’s mother, lifted herself to greet us, her frail body at the other end of life to her great-grandchild. We sat with these four generations to hear about their journey to hoped-for safety in this camp, and the daily fear of attack. Their home is made up of four shelters – each constructed of sticks and assorted pieces of boarding. Two are wrapped in plastic sheets, the others are barely covered. There is little shelter from either the baking sun or the heavy rain of the early mornings. The women talked of how water, healthcare, schooling and nutritional support from SUDO are making a difference to their lives. I asked what they most need now? The answer: simply another plastic sheet. Rajab, the camp manager, was straightforward in his response – with more displaced people arriving daily, Khadeja’s family

must wait their turn. Her nod of acceptance conveyed a familiarity with the experience of newcomers. Christian Aid works in Darfur as part of a coalition of 60 international Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic churches and agencies; this unique alliance makes us one of the largest bodies working in Darfur, a region the size of France. This year, Christian Aid contributed more than £1 million to the coalition budget of £8 million (US$15 million). Our partners work in 26 camps and 18 communities and villages; last year the programme worked with nearly 400,000 people, providing basic needs and support for those living with trauma. People in Biliel are under constant threat of theft, murder and rape. The government-backed militia, Janjaweed, and other armed factions are present in the camp and its vicinity. All cultivation in the surrounding land has stopped. Even gathering firewood is no longer safe. People feel that the African Union peacekeeping presence has such limited resources that it gives no

Picture: Christian Aid/David Rose

Darfur, says Kofi Annan, makes a mockery of the international community’s promise to shield people from the worst abuses. Christian Aid’s head of Africa David Pain is under no illusion about the challenges we face in trying to help

Above: The future is still bleak for these children living in a camp in Darfur

Christian Aid News

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can: frontline

DIARY OF CONFLICT From the 1880s until 1955 Sudan was controlled by Egypt and Britain. Independence came in 1956, with political power dominated by a north Sudan Arab elite. ■ The recent conflict between rebel groups in Darfur and Sudanese government forces began in 2003, when President Bashir’s government was accused of neglecting the ■

practical security. This state of lawlessness is the reality of life, far from the international negotiating tables. With a lack of mass communication, there is very little understanding of the details of the Darfur peace agreement but there is a clear recognition that peace will never come without wider participation in the process. There is a sense that the peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria, earlier this year were driven more by a need for

development of the Darfur region. ■ In the fighting that has followed, 200,000 have been killed and three million displaced. Refugees claimed there was a deliberate attempt to drive black Africans out of Darfur. Many spoke of government aircraft bombing villages and of the Arab Janjaweed militia then riding in to kill, rape and steal. ■ In May 2006, a peace agreement was

headlines for global statesmen than to deliver an inclusive and sustainable settlement for Darfur. Meanwhile, supplies of medicines at the camp are being stockpiled in case increased insecurity makes it impossible to transport goods in the coming weeks. Everywhere there is a sense of growing tension. Khadeja’s family walked for six hours to the camp from their farmland two years ago: they are kept alive by the hope of one day

signed and a 7,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force moved in to monitor the ceasefire. However, violence has continued and even increased recently, and the AU mandate runs out on 31 December. Pressure for the United Nations to take over the peacekeeping mission has hit a brick wall, with the Sudanese government saying it will not allow a UN force on its territory.

going home. We discussed what will make this possible. For Khadeja’s daughter, such hope has faded: she can see no possibility that she and her baby will ever return, their fear of attack is so overwhelming. Khadeja was more animated: ‘If it is the will of God, we will return.’ But as we talked, it was clear her tone and choice of words were not an expression of hope or faith – rather one of continued on page 12 Christian Aid News

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Sierra Leone: we achieve our goals by working together

continued from page 11

Five years after civil war ended in Sierra Leone, communications manager Annabel Davis finds the West African country beset by problems but infused with a sense of optimism

Below: Women in the camp at Biliel

A WORLD AT WAR.

Picture: Christian Aid/Charlotte Brudenell.

resignation, as their fate is so totally out of their hands. My visit to Sudan includes attending the governing board meeting for the churches’ joint response to the Darfur crisis. My participation will be shaped by the experience both of the relief being delivered, but also of the intense challenge presented by the ongoing political impasse. What will it take to place the needs of Khadeja’s family, and so many others like them, at the centre of the international political agenda? With the rain still falling, I join our staff and partners working to ensure basic daily needs are met, and redoubling our efforts to convey the reality of what is happening here so that a lasting peace can be built which will give Khadeja and millions like her the confidence to return home to their fields and farms. Christian Aid has been in Sudan since 1973. The need for us to work here has never been greater than now.

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DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC) Despite new hopes for democracy, fighting in the east of the DRC and the integration of the new national army remain two of the greatest challenges for the country’s future and the wider peace effort in Africa’s Great Lakes region. Christian Aid partner RECIC-Kinshasa, a network for civic education, has been organising open meetings at which the public can question

IN 1997, WITH eight rifles pointing at him, John Foday thought he was going to die. John had left the safety of the town in desperate search of food for his wife and children when he was captured by a group of rebels. Miraculously he was not shot or hurt, and walked away a free man. But that same day, John lost two of his daughters. They died of hunger. The eldest was four, the youngest 11 months. January 2007 sees the fifth anniversary of the end of Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war. In a decade of fighting 20,000 people were killed, 10,000 child soldiers took up arms, more than half of the 4.5 million population were left homeless, and 250,000 women were abducted and raped. Five years on, the country is still dominated by the poverty, marginalisation and poor

politicians. Their coordination work and monitoring of the elections is essential to build trust with the population.

RWANDA Rwanda is still recovering from the genocide in 1994. Although the country has made significant progress in reviving its economy, the government has yet to address issues of human rights, freedom of speech, accountability and refugees. Over the past ten years, the

governance that caused the war. Jobs are few and subsistence farming yields poor harvests as the land slowly recovers from years of abandonment. Government and donor initiatives to build roads, schools and health centres, and supply water and electricity are just a dream to most communities. In a land abundant with diamonds, gold and other minerals, the natural resources that could make the country rich are subject to the abuses of corruption. Freetown doubled in size during the war and continues to house a population beyond its capacity. On street corners people sort through rubbish for food or something to sell. Electricity rarely lasts more than a couple of hours a week and last summer saw acute water shortages as the reservoir ran dry. In villages, people struggle to

presence of thousands of Rwandan rebels in eastern DRC has fuelled regional instability. Rwanda has used the rebels’ presence there as a pretext for invading the DRC in 1996 and 1998, threatening to do it again more recently in 2004. Christian Aid has worked in Rwanda since 1963. We now support 13 local partner organisations. Work focuses on reestablishing agriculture, peace and human rights, health education (especially

HIV/AIDS), emergency relief and small business loans.

UGANDA Once seen as one of the success stories of Africa, Uganda successfully reduced HIV-infection rates and was one of the first countries to receive debt relief, which it spent on health, education, water and sanitation. However, the violent conflict in northern Uganda – between the government and the Lord’s Resistance Army

Christian Aid News

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Sierra Leone: we achieve our goals by working together

continued from page 11

Five years after civil war ended in Sierra Leone, communications manager Annabel Davis finds the West African country beset by problems but infused with a sense of optimism

Below: Women in the camp at Biliel

Picture: Christian Aid/Charlotte Brudenell.

resignation, as their fate is so totally out of their hands. My visit to Sudan includes attending the governing board meeting for the churches’ joint response to the Darfur crisis. My participation will be shaped by the experience both of the relief being delivered, but also of the intense challenge presented by the ongoing political impasse. What will it take to place the needs of Khadeja’s family, and so many others like them, at the centre of the international political agenda? With the rain still falling, I join our staff and partners working to ensure basic daily needs are met, and redoubling our efforts to convey the reality of what is happening here so that a lasting peace can be built which will give Khadeja and millions like her the confidence to return home to their fields and farms. Christian Aid has been in Sudan since 1973. The need for us to work here has never been greater than now.

A WORLD AT WAR

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC)

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Despite new hopes for democracy, fighting in the east of the DRC and the integration of the new national army remain two of the greatest challenges for the country’s future and the wider peace effort in Africa’s Great Lakes region. Christian Aid partner RECIC-Kinshasa, a network for civic education, has been organising open meetings at which the public can question

IN 1997, WITH eight rifles pointing at him, John Foday thought he was going to die. John had left the safety of the town in desperate search of food for his wife and children when he was captured by a group of rebels. Miraculously he was not shot or hurt, and walked away a free man. But that same day, John lost two of his daughters. They died of hunger. The eldest was four, the youngest 11 months. January 2007 sees the fifth anniversary of the end of Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war. In a decade of fighting 20,000 people were killed, 10,000 child soldiers took up arms, more than half of the 4.5 million population were left homeless, and 250,000 women were abducted and raped. Five years on, the country is still dominated by the poverty, marginalisation and poor

politicians. Their coordination work and monitoring of the elections is essential to build trust with the population.

RWANDA Rwanda is still recovering from the genocide in 1994. Although the country has made significant progress in reviving its economy, the government has yet to address issues of human rights, freedom of speech, accountability and refugees. Over the past ten years, the

governance that caused the war. Jobs are few and subsistence farming yields poor harvests as the land slowly recovers from years of abandonment. Government and donor initiatives to build roads, schools and health centres, and supply water and electricity are just a dream to most communities. In a land abundant with diamonds, gold and other minerals, the natural resources that could make the country rich are subject to the abuses of corruption. Freetown doubled in size during the war and continues to house a population beyond its capacity. On street corners people sort through rubbish for food or something to sell. Electricity rarely lasts more than a couple of hours a week and last summer saw acute water shortages as the reservoir ran dry. In villages, people struggle to

presence of thousands of Rwandan rebels in eastern DRC has fuelled regional instability. Rwanda has used the rebels’ presence there as a pretext for invading the DRC in 1996 and 1998, threatening to do it again more recently in 2004. Christian Aid has worked in Rwanda since 1963. We now support 13 local partner organisations. Work focuses on reestablishing agriculture, peace and human rights, health education (especially

HIV/AIDS), emergency relief and small business loans.

UGANDA Once seen as one of the success stories of Africa, Uganda successfully reduced HIV-infection rates and was one of the first countries to receive debt relief, which it spent on health, education, water and sanitation. However, the violent conflict in northern Uganda – between the government and the Lord’s Resistance Army

Christian Aid News

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Sierra Leone: we achieve our goals by working together

continued from page 11

Five years after civil war ended in Sierra Leone, communications manager Annabel Davis finds the West African country beset by problems but infused with a sense of optimism

Below: Women in the camp at Biliel

A WORLD AT WAR.

Picture: Christian Aid/Charlotte Brudenell.

resignation, as their fate is so totally out of their hands. My visit to Sudan includes attending the governing board meeting for the churches’ joint response to the Darfur crisis. My participation will be shaped by the experience both of the relief being delivered, but also of the intense challenge presented by the ongoing political impasse. What will it take to place the needs of Khadeja’s family, and so many others like them, at the centre of the international political agenda? With the rain still falling, I join our staff and partners working to ensure basic daily needs are met, and redoubling our efforts to convey the reality of what is happening here so that a lasting peace can be built which will give Khadeja and millions like her the confidence to return home to their fields and farms. Christian Aid has been in Sudan since 1973. The need for us to work here has never been greater than now.

12

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC) Despite new hopes for democracy, fighting in the east of the DRC and the integration of the new national army remain two of the greatest challenges for the country’s future and the wider peace effort in Africa’s Great Lakes region. Christian Aid partner RECIC-Kinshasa, a network for civic education, has been organising open meetings at which the public can question

IN 1997, WITH eight rifles pointing at him, John Foday thought he was going to die. John had left the safety of the town in desperate search of food for his wife and children when he was captured by a group of rebels. Miraculously he was not shot or hurt, and walked away a free man. But that same day, John lost two of his daughters. They died of hunger. The eldest was four, the youngest 11 months. January 2007 sees the fifth anniversary of the end of Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war. In a decade of fighting 20,000 people were killed, 10,000 child soldiers took up arms, more than half of the 4.5 million population were left homeless, and 250,000 women were abducted and raped. Five years on, the country is still dominated by the poverty, marginalisation and poor

politicians. Their coordination work and monitoring of the elections is essential to build trust with the population.

RWANDA Rwanda is still recovering from the genocide in 1994. Although the country has made significant progress in reviving its economy, the government has yet to address issues of human rights, freedom of speech, accountability and refugees. Over the past ten years, the

governance that caused the war. Jobs are few and subsistence farming yields poor harvests as the land slowly recovers from years of abandonment. Government and donor initiatives to build roads, schools and health centres, and supply water and electricity are just a dream to most communities. In a land abundant with diamonds, gold and other minerals, the natural resources that could make the country rich are subject to the abuses of corruption. Freetown doubled in size during the war and continues to house a population beyond its capacity. On street corners people sort through rubbish for food or something to sell. Electricity rarely lasts more than a couple of hours a week and last summer saw acute water shortages as the reservoir ran dry. In villages, people struggle to

presence of thousands of Rwandan rebels in eastern DRC has fuelled regional instability. Rwanda has used the rebels’ presence there as a pretext for invading the DRC in 1996 and 1998, threatening to do it again more recently in 2004. Christian Aid has worked in Rwanda since 1963. We now support 13 local partner organisations. Work focuses on reestablishing agriculture, peace and human rights, health education (especially

HIV/AIDS), emergency relief and small business loans.

UGANDA Once seen as one of the success stories of Africa, Uganda successfully reduced HIV-infection rates and was one of the first countries to receive debt relief, which it spent on health, education, water and sanitation. However, the violent conflict in northern Uganda – between the government and the Lord’s Resistance Army

Christian Aid News

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can: frontline

grow enough food, despite the president’s inaugural speech back in 2001 declaring that ‘no Sierra Leonean would go to bed hungry’. A dual legal system continues. There is confusion between common law, practised by the government, and customary law exercised by the paramount chiefs (the chief of chiefs). Few people are aware of their rights, and both paramount chiefs and politicians exploit this ignorance. Disaffected youths, who made up 90 per cent of the rebel forces, continue to be excluded from decision-making. Yet a sense of optimism exists. After the war, a national programme of peace and reconciliation helped people to forgive if not forget and return home to pick up the pieces. The soldiers and peacekeeping troops are now gone, leaving non-governmental organisations (NGOs), intent on supporting the renewal of Sierra Leone. Among them are two Christian Aid partner organisations – Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD) and Methodist Church of Sierra Leone (MCSL) – working closely together on a nationwide programme, Let’s Push Peace. This works with 120 communities to address poverty and tackle disputes. Today, John Foday is a village ‘animator’ with MCSL in his home village Kiegbai, in the eastern district of Kailahun. In the

continued on page 14

Right: Peace worker John Foday and his two children

an end to the conflict which has forced more than 1.6 million people from their homes and resulted in the abduction of an estimated 20,000 children, forced to fight for the LRA or to become ‘wives’ of its commanders. There is also sporadic conflict between different groups in Karamoja in the north-east of the country. Christian Aid supports Teso Religious Leaders’ Efforts for Peace and Reconciliation, an organisation which is

working with these groups to establish regular peace meetings, and has trained peace promoters who draw on the Karamajong culture of storytelling, singing and dancing as a way to foster forgiveness.

SOMALIA The situation in Somalia is becoming increasingly tense as relations between the Union of Islamic Courts and the Ethiopian government continue to deteriorate. With

Picture: Christian Aid/Annabel Davis

Picture: Christian Aid/Rachel Lewis

(LRA) – is now in its 20th year. A ceasefire signed two months ago raised hopes of

middle of the village sits an open community centre where John holds peace sessions. To one side is the mosque, the bullet holes in the walls a reminder of the past. ‘I want to motivate my people to realise our development lies in our own hands,’ says John. ‘Pre-war, people were working individually, but we couldn’t stand firm on our own. We achieve our goals by working as a group. Two hands are better than one.’ John received training to help him promote peace in his community, and mediate disputes into amicable agreements. He cites examples of families settling differences, of persuading elders and youths to listen to women and understand their needs, and of lobbying the local government to complete the school which had been left half-standing. John has helped MCSL to establish a village development committee, initiate peace clubs and encourage people to form groups of around 50 to work together to improve their lives. MCSL provided technical agricultural support, seeds and food in return for the group’s labour, developing swamps to cultivate rice, fields in which to grow groundnuts, gardens for vegetables and ponds to breed fish. Every harvest, seeds

sporadic outbreaks of conflict amongst militia groups in southern Somalia, the UN has reported that more than 30,000 refugees have crossed into northern Kenya this year. Through the organisation Northern Aid, Christian Aid works in northern Kenya with Somali pastoralists, helping them in the face of drought and conflict. As the situation deteriorates they are increasingly vulnerable and Northern Aid is working to identify how we can respond. Christian Aid News

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Picture: Christian Aid/Annabel Davis

continued from page 13

are returned to MCSL to enable new groups to start up. Emergency seed stores are set aside, some seeds are planted again, and the rest distributed fairly among the group. In three years, the village’s production has gone from 30 bushes to this year’s harvest of 200. Hawa Musa, 26, is a member of a group and says her life has changed beyond recognition. ‘One great thing in the community is awareness,’ she says. ‘We are willing to do group work and help each other out. There was no trust among us, but now we realise that if we come together, and do things together, we can prosper.’ Hawa is attending adult literacy classes, provided by MCSL. Improved economic status is bringing equality into homes and communities, but it is new knowledge that gives Hawa most pride. ‘I enjoy working as a group, but I get more personally out of adult literacy. As I learn more, I’m becoming bolder and more involved, and I’m not excluded from community events anymore.’

Middle East: putting lives back together

Change is also needed in Sierra Leone’s approach to youth if peace is going to last. With ‘youth’ classified as anyone between 15 and 35 and life expectancy at around 40, they make up the bulk of the population but are ignored by governing structures. Steven Simon, 29, member of a youth coalition formed by NMJD, says: ‘In war people took up guns for their cause. I’m fighting my cause with advocacy.’ With elections set for 2007, tensions could run high. There is still a battle ahead, but this time it can be dealt with through talk and development, not arms.

Middle East officer Sarah Malian examines how Christian Aid is helping war-torn communities put their lives back together following the conflict this summer in which more than 1,100 Lebanese, 44 Israeli and 160 Palestinian civilians were killed

Christian Aid has suppported the Methodist Church of Sierra Leone since 1997 and Network Movement for Justice and Development since 2002 and has given £130,869 to the two groups for the Let’s Push Peace project, which is also funded by the EU. The Baptist Union and Presbyterian Church of Wales are also raising funds for this – and other – work in Sierra Leone.

CHRISTIAN AID supporters have raised more than £1.5 million for the Middle East Crisis Appeal which is helping our partner organisations cope with the aftermath of the conflict. Christian Aid will be there in the long term too, as people start to rebuild their lives. Here’s how we are responding in the region.

Left: Hawa attends an adult literacy class in Sierra Leone Top right: Christian Aid is giving funds to provide specialist equipment for the disabled in Lebanon

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Lebanon Christian Aid has already allocated around £580,000 of its appeal funds on relief for those most affected in Lebanon. After the initial phase of providing shelter, food and medicines, our partners are helping with reconstruction, rehabilitation and helping people adjust to their new circumstances. With the Lebanese Physically Handicapped Union we are providing specialist

Christian Aid News

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Picture: Christian Aid/Annabel Davis

continued from page 13

are returned to MCSL to enable new groups to start up. Emergency seed stores are set aside, some seeds are planted again, and the rest distributed fairly among the group. In three years, the village’s production has gone from 30 bushes to this year’s harvest of 200. Hawa Musa, 26, is a member of a group and says her life has changed beyond recognition. ‘One great thing in the community is awareness,’ she says. ‘We are willing to do group work and help each other out. There was no trust among us, but now we realise that if we come together, and do things together, we can prosper.’ Hawa is attending adult literacy classes, provided by MCSL. Improved economic status is bringing equality into homes and communities, but it is new knowledge that gives Hawa most pride. ‘I enjoy working as a group, but I get more personally out of adult literacy. As I learn more, I’m becoming bolder and more involved, and I’m not excluded from community events anymore.’

Middle East: putting lives back together

Change is also needed in Sierra Leone’s approach to youth if peace is going to last. With ‘youth’ classified as anyone between 15 and 35 and life expectancy at around 40, they make up the bulk of the population but are ignored by governing structures. Steven Simon, 29, member of a youth coalition formed by NMJD, says: ‘In war people took up guns for their cause. I’m fighting my cause with advocacy.’ With elections set for 2007, tensions could run high. There is still a battle ahead, but this time it can be dealt with through talk and development, not arms.

Middle East officer Sarah Malian examines how Christian Aid is helping war-torn communities put their lives back together following the conflict this summer in which more than 1,100 Lebanese, 44 Israeli and 160 Palestinian civilians were killed

Christian Aid has suppported the Methodist Church of Sierra Leone since 1997 and Network Movement for Justice and Development since 2002 and has given £130,869 to the two groups for the Let’s Push Peace project, which is also funded by the EU. The Baptist Union and Presbyterian Church of Wales are also raising funds for this – and other – work in Sierra Leone.

CHRISTIAN AID supporters have raised more than £1.5 million for the Middle East Crisis Appeal which is helping our partner organisations cope with the aftermath of the conflict. Christian Aid will be there in the long term too, as people start to rebuild their lives. Here’s how we are responding in the region.

Left: Hawa attends an adult literacy class in Sierra Leone Top right: Christian Aid is giving funds to provide specialist equipment for the disabled in Lebanon

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Lebanon Christian Aid has already allocated around £580,000 of its appeal funds on relief for those most affected in Lebanon. After the initial phase of providing shelter, food and medicines, our partners are helping with reconstruction, rehabilitation and helping people adjust to their new circumstances. With the Lebanese Physically Handicapped Union we are providing specialist

Christian Aid News

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can: frontline

SUMMER OF WAR The kidnap of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah on 12 July triggered a devastating response from Israel. Air, land and sea attacks targeted Lebanese cities and infrastructure killing more than one thousand civilians and forcing almost one million people from their homes. Hezbollah launched rocket attacks on northern Israel, causing extensive damage to homes and killing at least 43 civilians. The passing of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 calling for a full cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon has brought some respite but a permanent ceasefire has yet to be reached. the onset of winter it will become increasingly difficult for clearance teams to operate as rain will cause unexploded ordnance to sink further into the ground.

Israel In northern Israel people are slowly repairing the damage to their homes caused by Hezbollah. Throughout the crisis this summer Christian Aid was in close contact with Israeli partner organisations to identify their needs in the north of the country. Our partners have confirmed that the Israeli government has been able to reshuffle its budget to cope with the removal of rubble and the reconstruction of homes. However, we have carried out a mapping exercise of northern Israel which has raised questions around the level of preparedness for future conflicts and the adequacy of the bunkers many people had to shelter in during Hezbollah’s rocket attacks.

The Gaza Strip Israeli air strikes on Gaza in June destroyed the main power station supplying electricity to the entire Strip. This had a knock-on effect on

For more information, go to www.christianaid.org.uk

p10-19 War and peace.indd 7

Picture: Reuters/Sharif Karim/photo courtesy of Alertnet.com

equipment and care for the disabled and helping them to access healthcare. Another of our partners has carried out a damage assessment of homes in the Bekaa Valley to help people to return to their villages. Behind the ruined infrastructure and an estimated million pieces of unexploded ordnance are personal tales of injury and disability. ‘There are children left disabled by the war who are now in wheelchairs,’ says Nizar Amine of Mouvement Social, an Christian Aid-backed organisation which repaired three bomb-damaged schools in the southern Lebanese village of Srifa before the start of the postponed school term in mid-October. ‘We have converted the school toilets into disabled-access toilets and added ramps to enable disabled children to enter the school.’ The Lebanese government says around 50 schools were totally destroyed and 300 damaged, with reconstruction costs estimated at more than US$70 million. Unexploded cluster bombs are also posing huge risks to people returning to their homes in southern Lebanon. Children playing among rubble and farmers returning to their fields are at particular risk. Lebanon’s National Demining Office said that by early October there had been 20 deaths and 113 injuries due to landmines, unexploded ordnance or cluster bombs since the end of the war – an average of three injuries or deaths a day. ‘At least a few times a week we hear that someone has been injured or killed by a cluster bomb,’ says Amine. The UN Mine Action Coordination Centre estimates that around 40 per cent of Israel’s cluster bombs failed to detonate. This will have huge implications for the reconstruction efforts. It could take up to 18 months for mine clearance teams to rid southern Lebanon of these bombs. As well as the risk of injury or death, this will have a huge economic impact on farmers unable to enter their fields. With

generator-powered water wells and the operation of medical equipment in hospitals. There are growing concerns about the deepening humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip where Israeli military incursions and factional fighting are still claiming lives. Furthermore, the sealing off of the Strip continues to prevent full access to essential supplies. Through the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee, we have supplied 500 families in Gaza with water tanks so they can store fresh drinking water. We have also given an emergency grant to the Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA) which runs community activities for children and women in southern Gaza. The grant will cover the costs of a generator and fuel for six months, and the salary of a psychologist to supervise CFTA’s field workers and therapists working with children. And £30,000 has gone towards the running of CFTA’s Women’s Health Centre in Gaza. Due to limited fuel supplies and the priority on emergency treatment, family planning and women’s health in Gaza has suffered from a lack of resources. Christian Aid News

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Picture: Christian Aid/Felicia Webb

Afghanistan: the price of underage marriage Sarah Malian reports from Afghanistan on the desperation of women who feel they have no other choice but to take drastic measures with their own lives

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his son to go to Iran for work because he wanted him out of the way. ‘He sexually desired my daughter,’ explains Sa’adgul, barely able to utter the words. ‘One night he went to my daughter’s bedroom and demanded sex.’ Faeza tried to reason with him saying, ‘I’m like your daughter, how can you do this? If you touch me, I will kill myself.’ She was eventually raped by her father-in-law and at four in the morning, in an unimaginable state of desperation and fear, poured kerosene over herself and set a match to it. She survived for five days in hospital before she died. The 70-year-old father-in-law was released from prison five days later after bribing the police, and Faeza’s family has been unable to pursue the case through the courts: nepotism, corruption and inefficiency within an under-resourced police force being the main culprits. ‘If you know people who are powerful, you can always escape jail,’ Sa’adgul says. ‘My daughter was a good person – every day she would clean the house and she never

Above: Mayna remains anxious about her impending wedding

burnt the bread…’ She trails off. On the day of my visit Mayna was anxious because she had just heard her 30-year-old fiancé had returned from Iran, meaning their wedding was imminent. Men in this district of Herat province often travel to Iran to collect money for a ‘bride price’ – the money a groom

IRAQ Christian Aid’s work in Iraq is entering a new phase. Our three-year emergency appeal working with ten partner organisations on 48 projects ranging from children’s activities to water supply projects has ended. The emergency funds are all spent, so our new programme is necessarily smaller, but the work will have a longer-term focus. We will continue to work in the north, centre and south of Iraq, supporting projects such as income generation and skills development for women, and safe play and learning activities for children. Our Iraqi partners will link with others across the Middle East, enabling them to build new networks and giving them opportunities to support and learn from each other, and advocate together on common issues. Given the deteriorating security, it is remarkable that our partners have continued to work, showing how, despite all the difficulties, it is possible to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Without such commitment we could not work in a country where Christian Aid’s own staff are unable to visit.

A WORLD AT WAR

FOURTEEN-YEAR-OLD MAYNA doesn’t waver as she looks me in the eyes and utters the words: ‘I have told my mother that if she forces me to get married, I will kill myself.’ It seems incongruous to hear such conviction from a young girl sitting in the shady courtyard of her home in northwest Afghanistan. But the tragic fate of her older sister, whose marriage was also arranged at a young age, lies heavy on her shoulders. ‘Faeza and I were very close,’ she recalls, reminiscing about her 15-year-old sister who died three years ago from self-inflicted burns. ‘She was really well behaved, hospitable and warm with guests.’ Faeza was just ten years old when her parents promised her to an older man and 14 when the wedding ceremony took place. ‘We are illiterate people and just know that girls have to get married, so why not marry them young?’ explains her 35-year-old mother Sa’adgul Janshidi, as she clutches a photo of her daughter. But a few weeks after the wedding things went drastically wrong. Faeza’s father-in law persuaded Christian Aid News

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■ Names have been changed to protect identities The Women’s Activities and Social Services Association (WASSA) was established in 2002, following the fall of the Taliban, as the first independent women’s organisation in the province of Herat, working to secure women’s human rights and empowerment, and raising awareness about violence against women. Christian Aid is contributing £23,800 to WASSA’s work in 2006/2007.

Above: A Tamil refugee is helped on to the beach after crossing from Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: a ferry ride to safety Anjali Kwatra sees the work being done to help Tamil refugees fleeing to India to escape the fighting in Sri Lanka SOAKING WET and tearful, 12-year-old Nirosha stumbles out of a wooden fishing boat and takes her first step on to Indian soil. She has just crossed the 40-kilometre Palk Strait separating Sri Lanka from India, fleeing the renewed conflict in her country which has left hundreds dead this year. The three-hour journey was particularly perilous because the fisherman who was paid a small fortune to ferry her family from Sri Lanka had dumped them on to a sandbank 100 metres from the Indian mainland. Luckily, within an hour they were spotted and rescued by the Indian navy, who handed them over to the police. They joined the 15,000 Tamil Sri Lankans who have arrived illegally this year in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where they find a common language and religion. As well as having to dodge capture by the Sri Lankan navy, the tiny fishing vessels often capsize in rough seas. Twelve people, including four children, have drowned this year. Nirosha’s father, Pathmamathan, says they have come to India because there was no safe place to

run to in Sri Lanka. ‘We just left our house and came here. The place is deserted, no one is left, everyone is scared. I am a fisherman but because of the fighting I have not been able to go to sea since March. How can my family survive any longer without money coming in?’ Across the north and east of the island civilians have been caught up in the violence that broke out again between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan military at the beginning of the year. Those who can afford it head to Mannar on the west coast of the island – the closest departure point to India. It is estimated that around 20,000 people are currently in Mannar waiting to cross the straits. On both sides of the crossing, the Organisation for Eelam Refugee Rehabilitation (OfERR), supported by Christian Aid, provides help for the refugees. ‘They come because they are being squeezed by both sides in the conflict,’ explains Mr S C Chandrahasan, who founded OfERR in India in the early 1980s. Most of the refugees describe continued on page 18 Christian Aid News

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Picture: Christian Aid/Tom Pietrasik

pays his wife’s family for the marriage to go ahead. Poor families with many children have few options but to ‘sell’ their daughters to whoever offers them the largest sum. Herat province may not be in the midst of the fighting with Taliban forces currently plaguing the south and east of the country, but it has had its fair share of battles and the years of Taliban rule between 1995-2001 are still fresh in people’s memories. Restrictions against women are widespread, and internal power struggles with the government in Kabul mean issues such as women’s rights are often low on the list of priorities. The Women’s Activities and Social Services Association (WASSA), an organisation backed by Christian Aid, is working hard in this part of Afghanistan to educate women, including Sa’adgul, about their rights, to explain the dangers of arranging marriages for underage girls, and to provide legal advice. Questionnaires help members to pinpoint women who are particularly vulnerable and invite them to participate in workshops. WASSA also hold separate workshops with local mullahs and imams. Christian Aid is also funding the establishment of female village councils to give women more of a say in decision-making within their communities. There’s a long way to go, but projects such as these are a glimmer of hope in a country at such a crucial point in its history.

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A WORLD AT WAR

harassment by the Sri Lankan military, but also talk of intimidation and revenge attacks by the LTTE. ‘They want to be able to live in peace in Sri Lanka, but until that happens we are grateful for the sanctuary that India provides,’ says Mr Chandrahasan. The Indian government runs more than 100 camps for refugees throughout Tamil Nadu. Eighteen have been set up this year to cope with new arrivals. OfERR works in every camp, providing services from nursery education and adult literacy classes, to clothes and hot meals for exhausted refugees arriving on the beach. Sasikala, 28, who arrived in August, weeps as she described how her husband was dragged out of their house in 2001 by three men, suspected of being Tamil Tiger rebels, because he belonged to a rival Tamil group. ‘They tied him to an electricity pole and shot him in the head, leaving me with three children to bring up on my own. Any place I go to in Sri Lanka, the fighting will come. I am worried about my children. I want them to go to

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PHILIPPINES On the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippine, a conflict between the Philippines government and Muslim separatists has claimed more than 150,000 lives since the 1960s and displaced tens of thousands of people. Recent peace talks

Above: Safe at last – a family of Tamil refugees arrives in India

■ The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has been fighting for a separate Tamil homeland in the north and east of Sri Lanka since 1983. ■ In 2002 a ceasefire was signed and peace talks began. Many of the 600,000 Tamils who had fled to India since the 1980s returned to Sri Lanka. ■ Talks broke down in 2003, but the truce mainly held – until this

school and get good jobs, not get caught up in the fighting.’ She sold her gold earrings in Mannar to pay the 6,000-rupee (£30) fee demanded by the boatman and came with just one suitcase. Others arrive on the beach clutching plastic bags filled with clothes, toys or even pet dogs. Other refugees, like Selvi Kumar, 33, have been in India for many years. She arrived in 1990 after particularly fierce fighting displaced thousands of people and now works for OfERR, training new arrivals in sewing and tailoring so they can earn an income in India. ‘Here I can live and sleep peacefully with my sons. That is not possible in Sri Lanka. I miss my country and my home but I will only go back when

brought hope that a compromise offering Mindanao’s Muslims a degree of autonomy can be reached, but the Malaysian-brokered talks (between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippines government) are currently stalled.

LATIN AMERICA Poverty is exacerbated by conflict and the legacy of conflict. In Colombia, the civil war has been raging for more than four decades. And although peace accords have ended civil wars in Central America and

year. In all but words the two sides are now back at war. The northern town of Jaffna is cut off from the rest of the island, while areas of the east have become a battlefield. ■ The United Nations has estimated that 207,000 people have been forced to leave their homes and stay with friends or relatives, or move into camps run by the government. the problems are solved.’ ‘The work that OfERR is doing is vital,’ says James Marchant, head of Christian Aid’s south Asia region. ‘People will continue to flee Sri Lanka as long as the violence continues. We urgently need both sides to respect the ceasefire and return to talks as soon as possible.’ Christian Aid has supported the Organisation for Eelam Refugee Rehabilitation (OfERR) since 1990 and will be providing £930,000 of funding this year. As well as working to protect civilians caught up in violence for many years, OfERR also works in eastern and northern Sri Lanka, rebuilding homes and lives after the tsunami. truth commissions have reported in Peru, Guatemala and El Salvador, the absence of war has not brought about peace. The root causes of conflict – including poverty – have not been addressed.

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AN ISLAND AT WAR continued from page 17

A WORLD AT WAR

harassment by the Sri Lankan military, but also talk of intimidation and revenge attacks by the LTTE. ‘They want to be able to live in peace in Sri Lanka, but until that happens we are grateful for the sanctuary that India provides,’ says Mr Chandrahasan. The Indian government runs more than 100 camps for refugees throughout Tamil Nadu. Eighteen have been set up this year to cope with new arrivals. OfERR works in every camp, providing services from nursery education and adult literacy classes, to clothes and hot meals for exhausted refugees arriving on the beach. Sasikala, 28, who arrived in August, weeps as she described how her husband was dragged out of their house in 2001 by three men, suspected of being Tamil Tiger rebels, because he belonged to a rival Tamil group. ‘They tied him to an electricity pole and shot him in the head, leaving me with three children to bring up on my own. Any place I go to in Sri Lanka, the fighting will come. I am worried about my children. I want them to go to

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PHILIPPINES On the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippine, a conflict between the Philippines government and Muslim separatists has claimed more than 150,000 lives since the 1960s and displaced tens of thousands of people. Recent peace talks

Above: Safe at last – a family of Tamil refugees arrives in India

■ The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has been fighting for a separate Tamil homeland in the north and east of Sri Lanka since 1983. ■ In 2002 a ceasefire was signed and peace talks began. Many of the 600,000 Tamils who had fled to India since the 1980s returned to Sri Lanka. ■ Talks broke down in 2003, but the truce mainly held – until this

school and get good jobs, not get caught up in the fighting.’ She sold her gold earrings in Mannar to pay the 6,000-rupee (£30) fee demanded by the boatman and came with just one suitcase. Others arrive on the beach clutching plastic bags filled with clothes, toys or even pet dogs. Other refugees, like Selvi Kumar, 33, have been in India for many years. She arrived in 1990 after particularly fierce fighting displaced thousands of people and now works for OfERR, training new arrivals in sewing and tailoring so they can earn an income in India. ‘Here I can live and sleep peacefully with my sons. That is not possible in Sri Lanka. I miss my country and my home but I will only go back when

brought hope that a compromise offering Mindanao’s Muslims a degree of autonomy can be reached, but the Malaysian-brokered talks (between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippines government) are currently stalled.

LATIN AMERICA Poverty is exacerbated by conflict and the legacy of conflict. In Colombia, the civil war has been raging for more than four decades. And although peace accords have ended civil wars in Central America and

year. In all but words the two sides are now back at war. The northern town of Jaffna is cut off from the rest of the island, while areas of the east have become a battlefield. ■ The United Nations has estimated that 207,000 people have been forced to leave their homes and stay with friends or relatives, or move into camps run by the government. the problems are solved.’ ‘The work that OfERR is doing is vital,’ says James Marchant, head of Christian Aid’s south Asia region. ‘People will continue to flee Sri Lanka as long as the violence continues. We urgently need both sides to respect the ceasefire and return to talks as soon as possible.’ Christian Aid has supported the Organisation for Eelam Refugee Rehabilitation (OfERR) since 1990 and will be providing £930,000 of funding this year. As well as working to protect civilians caught up in violence for many years, OfERR also works in eastern and northern Sri Lanka, rebuilding homes and lives after the tsunami. truth commissions have reported in Peru, Guatemala and El Salvador, the absence of war has not brought about peace. The root causes of conflict – including poverty – have not been addressed.

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Tsunami relief for ‘poorest’ victims Nearly two years on from the tsunami which struck on Boxing Day 2004, Christian Aid-backed efforts to rebuild devastated communities are bringing positive results for many of those who needed help most, reports Anjali Kwatra WHEN AID poured in to help those affected by the tsunami, some of the most vulnerable communities were overlooked. Christian Aid and its local organisations have been working to make sure the poorest get the help they need. Since the disaster, Christian Aid has spent more than £25 million tsunami relief in India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka on water, food, medicines, housing, getting people back to work with training and loans, and counselling. Another £21 million will be targetted and spent by the end of 2009. ‘Soon after the tsunami, our partners realised that the poorest were missing out on aid because of discrimination or because they were not able to get their demands heard. That’s where we decided to focus our efforts,’ said Anthony

Morton-King, Christian Aid’s tsunami programme manager. ‘In India we are helping to ensure dalits get the aid they are entitled to, in Indonesia we have helped some of the poorest people on the island of Nias and in Sri Lanka we are helping those also hit by the conflict between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels.’ * In September Christian Aid held workshops in India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia with all our tsunami partner organisations to discuss what went well and what could have been done better in our tsunami response – the biggest emergency response in our history. One of the main lessons to emerge was a need for holding meetings in local languages and representing partner organisations when they do not speak English.

Pictures: Christian Aid/Tom Pietrasik

‘NOW WE CAN SLEEP WITHOUT FEAR’ ALL 72 HUTS in MGR Nagar village in Tamil Nadu, southern India were washed away in minutes when the tsunami struck. But unlike other villagers, those in MGR Nagar claim they did not get any compensation from the government, because they were dalits, on the lowest rung in the caste system. The villagers were forced to put up their own temporary shelters on flood-prone land until a village leader managed to convince a local government official that they should be allocated safer land further inland on which to rebuild their homes. Christian Aid’s partner the Development Promotion Group (DPG), agreed to build 72 new homes with running water. The houses have raised foundations to prevent water from entering and outside staircases leading to flat roofs, where people can escape to. Pratty, 42, is one of those who moved into her new home built by DPG in August. ‘Soon after the tsunami, a district official came to visit our village for an assessment. He walked round, looked at our houses and said that because we were dalit families he could not help us. Dalits are not recognised as fishermen by the government so we weren’t entitled to any compensation. ‘We have been sleepless for many months. This new village means we will be able to sleep in peace again without fear.’

New homes have brought relief and hope to dalits such as Pratty (top)

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Tsunami relief for ‘poorest’ victims Nearly two years on from the tsunami which struck on Boxing Day 2004, Christian Aid-backed efforts to rebuild devastated communities are bringing positive results for many of those who needed help most, reports Anjali Kwatra WHEN AID poured in to help those affected by the tsunami, some of the most vulnerable communities were overlooked. Christian Aid and its local organisations have been working to make sure the poorest get the help they need. Since the disaster, Christian Aid has spent more than £25 million tsunami relief in India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka on water, food, medicines, housing, getting people back to work with training and loans, and counselling. Another £21 million will be targetted and spent by the end of 2009. ‘Soon after the tsunami, our partners realised that the poorest were missing out on aid because of discrimination or because they were not able to get their demands heard. That’s where we decided to focus our efforts,’ said Anthony

Morton-King, Christian Aid’s tsunami programme manager. ‘In India we are helping to ensure dalits get the aid they are entitled to, in Indonesia we have helped some of the poorest people on the island of Nias and in Sri Lanka we are helping those also hit by the conflict between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels.’ * In September Christian Aid held workshops in India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia with all our tsunami partner organisations to discuss what went well and what could have been done better in our tsunami response – the biggest emergency response in our history. One of the main lessons to emerge was a need for holding meetings in local languages and representing partner organisations when they do not speak English.

Pictures: Christian Aid/Tom Pietrasik

‘NOW WE CAN SLEEP WITHOUT FEAR’ ALL 72 HUTS in MGR Nagar village in Tamil Nadu, southern India were washed away in minutes when the tsunami struck. But unlike other villagers, those in MGR Nagar claim they did not get any compensation from the government, because they were dalits, on the lowest rung in the caste system. The villagers were forced to put up their own temporary shelters on flood-prone land until a village leader managed to convince a local government official that they should be allocated safer land further inland on which to rebuild their homes. Christian Aid’s partner the Development Promotion Group (DPG), agreed to build 72 new homes with running water. The houses have raised foundations to prevent water from entering and outside staircases leading to flat roofs, where people can escape to. Pratty, 42, is one of those who moved into her new home built by DPG in August. ‘Soon after the tsunami, a district official came to visit our village for an assessment. He walked round, looked at our houses and said that because we were dalit families he could not help us. Dalits are not recognised as fishermen by the government so we weren’t entitled to any compensation. ‘We have been sleepless for many months. This new village means we will be able to sleep in peace again without fear.’

New homes have brought relief and hope to dalits such as Pratty (top)

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Campaigns

A result worth marching for

Pictures: Christian Aid/C J Clarke; Matthew Gonzalez-Noda

Trade justice campaign successes have been hard to come by. But on Thursday 14 September more than 3,000 campaigners preparing to march to the Treasury heard the news that the UK government was withholding £50 million of its funding to the World Bank. Lisa O’Shea, of Christian Aid’s campaigns team, looks back on an event that showed, a year on from Make Poverty History, that your campaigning is still having an impact

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AS IF THE bright sunshine wasn’t enough to lift the spirits of campaigners thronging into Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park in Southwark, London, the opening announcement guaranteed a jubilant atmosphere. Dr Daleep Mukarji, director of Christian Aid, told the crowd that the UK government had just agreed to withhold £50 million of its funding to the World Bank. It was the culmination of a summer of action for Christian Aid’s ‘The beat goes on’ campaign, to persuade the government to withdraw its funding from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank because of free-trade conditions the two bodies impose on poor countries. A staggering 25,066 signatures had been collected at 200 drumming events on 8 July and at festivals throughout the summer. Thanking campaigners for their support, Dr Mukarji told them: ‘This is excellent news and a vindication of all your hard work.’ But he also noted that it was only a first step. ‘The IMF and World Bank are still imposing damaging economic conditions on their loans. Now the UK government must withhold the rest of its funds until those organisations substantially reform themselves.’ Others who addressed the campaigners included Christian Aid trade justice ambassadors singer Ronan Keating and actress Adjoa Andoh, and Ibrahim Akalbila from the Integrated Social Development Centre – a Ghanaian

human rights group supported by Christian Aid. Ibrahim told the crowd, ‘There is a big hold on our governments by the IMF and World Bank. We are taking a message to the UK government to say conditions must stop.’ With many of us drumming on African drums and even pots and pans, the march wound its way across Lambeth Bridge, past the Houses of Parliament, and into Whitehall Place, halting outside the Treasury to deliver a message to Chancellor Gordon Brown that it was time to stop paying for poverty, and calling on him to cut all funding to the IMF and World Bank until they reform. The march was an inspiring sight, as campaigners carried placards with photos of people affected by the damaging policies of the IMF and World Bank. People such as Ayine Akugbilla, a rice farmer from Ghana. The IMF forced the Ghanaian government to withdraw support from farmers like Ayine. Now she cannot compete with cheap imports and has had to take her daughter out of school. Ayine says: ‘It is not right that other people try to prevent our government from supporting us, and are holding us to ransom.’ The rally ended with a message to campaigners to keep up the pressure and take the stories of the people on their placards back to their communities. Rebecca Tanui, from BEACON, an organisation Christian Aid works with in Kenya, reminded the crowd of why we campaign, quoting from Oscar

Romero, the late Archbishop of San Salvador: ‘We are prophets of a future not our own.’ Those who took part were sure the effort was worthwhile. Jordana, 21, from Essex, said: ‘It’s amazing. There are loads of people here, which is fantastic.’ Christian Aid’s head of campaigns, Paul Brannen, said: ‘Sometimes people question whether we should be so heavily involved in political campaigning and lobbying. Successes such as this vindicate our decision to speak out for those who do not have a voice and to use the political processes available to us to bring about change. When we know that the reason people are poor is often because of the actions of rich countries and institutions, we have an obligation to do so. In fact our partners demand it of us. The cancellation of poor countries’ debt wouldn’t have happened without public campaigning. And that’s probably the most compelling reason why Christian Aid campaigns – because it works.’

What’s next? Take the ‘stop paying for poverty’ demand to your MP! Ask them to insist that Gordon Brown and international development secretary Hilary Benn do more to reform the IMF and World Bank. To order a postcard by phone, call 020 7523 2225 (quoting F1226). For more information, email campaigns@christian-aid.org or visit Christian Aid’s campaigning website www.pressureworks.org

Top: Supporters add their voices to the clamour calling for change Above: The marchers cross Lambeth Bridge with the Houses of Parliament in the background

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The road to Singapore For Christian Aid campaign policy officer Justin Macmullan the beat went on all the way to the World Bank and IMF meetings in Singapore

Drummers just miss out on world record CHRISTIAN AID campaigners narrowly missed the world record for a simultaneous percussion performance this summer. The previous record was set in 2002 in Hong Kong when 10,102 people drummed together for six minutes. Throughout July and August at least 25,179 people drummed and signed petitions at festivals and other events. Not all at the same time, however! The closest we got to the record was when we know 8,725 people drummed at noon on 8 July for five minutes. So, not quite official world record breakers on the percussion front, but at least our message got through. Overpage: how Christian Aid took its message on the road

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THE PROTESTERS FILED silently into the ‘designated demonstration area’ in the Suntec conference centre in Singapore, where the IMF and World Bank held their annual meetings in September. Surgical masks with the words ‘No voice’ covered their mouths. For ten minutes they stood in silence as the world’s press took photos. The demonstration had been planned to highlight the way poor people are excluded from decision-making at the World Bank and IMF, but earlier the Singaporean government had banned several members of campaign groups from entering the country and detained others at the airport. The groups affected included Christian Aid partner organisations and one Christian Aid staff member. None of the organisations or individuals had any history of violence. As the meetings ended on 20 September, the bannings and detentions only added to the sense that these were two organisations struggling to answer their critics and make themselves relevant to the challenges ahead. The IMF’s tinkering with its voting structure did nothing to allay criticism that it remains dominated by rich countries. And the World Bank’s attempt in Singapore to find a role as global policeman on democracy and corruption didn’t even get the go-ahead from its members. The progress made on debt with the Gleneagles agreement, which has now finally been implemented, will mean significant debt relief for a handful (20) of the world’s poorest countries, although even some of these still face major debt problems. It was a major campaigning success, and shows that governments do respond to pressure, but there is much more to do. The UK isn’t the first country to have withheld funding from the World Bank and IMF: Norway had already reduced its contribution. However the UK’s action has certainly upped the ante and generated a lot of interest. The only positive side to the crisis engulfing the organisations is the hope that the wealthy and powerful countries that run them may now wake up to the need for much more fundamental reform. We do have to remember that it is early days. One thing is for sure though – campaigners here and internationally will keep the pressure up. Christian Aid News

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Campaigns road trip

When the beat just kept on going As soon as I mention my job to people, their eyes light up as they exclaim: ‘You’re so lucky – that must be great!’ As the festivals manager for Christian Aid I get to spend my summer outdoors at some of the top UK festivals – chatting to festival-goers about how they can help make the world a fairer place. This season we have been promoting our campaign ‘The beat goes on’ and we gathered 12,464 signatures on our trade justice petition to Gordon Brown. Here’s a look back at how the summer went… Katrine Musgrave

Bradford Mela, 17-18 June

Pictures: Chrisrtian Aid/Katrine Musgrave, Nell Freeman, David Lloyd

Urdd Eisteddfod, 29 May-3 June

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Having spent five hours packing the van, festival officer Alisha and I set off on the road to Wales. The Urdd Eisteddfod is Europe’s premier youth arts festival with more than 100,000 visitors and Christian Aid was at the heart of it all! We were part of a main stage set with 50 young people from Ysgol Maes Garmon. Staff member Branwen Niclas recalls, ‘It was a fantastic multi-media presentation promoting the beat goes on message!’ There was also much excitement among the Christian Aid volunteer team on the penultimate day of the festival when Welsh Notting Hill star Rhys Ifans dropped by to sign our petition. Rhys also created a campaign advert with us earlier in the year that was shown on the big screen – take a look at www.pressureworks.org/play/video

Just two weeks later we arrived at The Mela in Peel Park, Bradford. Attracting around a 70 per cent Asian audience, the word mela comes from Sanskrit and translates as ‘to meet’. We had around 140,000 visitors over the weekend so it was indeed a great big meet! Christian Aid set up a marquee opposite Islamic Relief who regularly promoted our petition over their megaphones as they served up the best curry in the park. It was our first visit to this festival, and we had a good reception even making it on to the main stage to address the crowds. With 20 volunteers and a troupe of local drummers roaming the site, it was a great weekend for Christian Aid. Staff member Laura Bardwell says: ‘This is essential and exciting multi-faith campaigning work which we must continue.’

we set foot on Balado, the site of the UK’s biggest music festival in 2006, the buzz set in. Our marquee had a perfect view of the main stage – what more could you ask! The highlight of the weekend came as The Lord of the Rings star Billy Boyd took to the stage in front of 75,000 festival-goers, joined by Dawn Zhu, the drummer from El Presidente, and asked the crowds to make a minute’s noise in solidarity with The Beat Goes On campaign. Check it out on www.pressureworks.org/dosomething Geoff Ellis, festival organiser said: ‘We were right behind Make Poverty History last year, and this association with Christian Aid seemed like a natural extension of that. We look forward to helping the charity with its good work for many years to come.’

T in the Park, 8-9 July

WOMAD, 28-31 July

Starting to get a little weary approaching festival number three (and an eight-hour van journey to Scotland!), but the minute

WOMAD was a real high for the festivals team and a great event to be part of. With a laid-back vibe and crawling with

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From left: Rhys Ifans at the Urdd Eisteddfod; drumming at the Bradford Mela; Billy Boyd on stage at T in the Park; the beat goes on at Womad (centre and top); and three images from Greenbelt - a graffiti wall, a metal drum sculpture and spreading the word on trade justice

people ready and willing to think about global justice issues, Christian Aid was right at home here. Instead of Christian Aid volunteers reaching out to the punters, at WOMAD they started coming to us! They loved the Psalm Drummers who took our petition around the fields, with everyone getting into the groove and dancing to the beat for trade justice.

V Festival, 19-20 August On to Weston Park, Staffordshire and back to the mega-star likes of Radiohead and Morrissey – for Christian Aid the beat was going on and on and we continued to campaign for trade justice. Our team of 12 volunteers did a fantastic job of getting people to sign up, despite the endless rain on Saturday. Outreach volunteer Beth-Louise Sturdee says: ‘Sometimes at V, I would overhear comments like, “That’s weird, why is Christian Aid at a music festival?” However, after a chat about the amazing work Christian Aid does, they

started to see that there are more layers to us than they first expected.’

Greenbelt, 25-28 August On to Cheltenham and this was like coming home, to the festival Christian Aid has partnered with for more than a decade now. Time for a fresh approach, however, and we joined the Performance Café to share an enormous red big-top! This made for a great blend of music and message, bringing a whole new audience into contact with us. Also for the first time, we worked with Greenbelt volunteers to create a fantastic metal drum sculpture, 20 feet high. After six intense weeks the 2006 festival season came to an end and Alisha and I have slung our wellies into the cupboard

until next year. Having campaigned so hard for the beat of Make Poverty History to go on, it was fantastic to hear that the government recently agreed to withhold £50 million from the World Bank until they reform their trade policies with developing countries – just the trade justice we have been calling for! Despite the rain, the mud, the sleeping bags and the endless burgers, this summer of festivals proved to be a really effective way to get our campaign message out to thousands of young people who now have a little more understanding of who we are. These people may well decide to peel another layer off the Christian Aid onion in the future, now they’ve seen a bunch of us turn up in a field where they least

BE A VOLUNTEER If you’d like to know more about our festival work and how you can volunteer with us, take a look at www.pressureworks.org/dosomething Christian Aid News

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Reflection

We are giving a voice to the poor Is being Christian compatible with being political? Bishop John Gladwin, chair of the board of Christian Aid, considers ways in which the organisation should be judged

Picture: Christian Aid/C J Clarke

1. Are we Christian enough?

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We would say that the work of challenging poverty in our world is close to the heart of the meaning of the gospel. It needs no other justification. It is our desire to work with the churches and our brothers and sisters in Christ struggling against the curse of poverty. Many of our key partners are indeed churches or ecumenical agencies or agencies rooted in Christian faith. The directorate and the board see the strategic importance of the

churches in the developing world in the task of tackling poverty. But sometimes we have a lot to do to enable the churches to be ready and able to play their part. Our African brothers and sisters talk about holistic theology, the gospel holding evangelism and social action indestructibly together. They see Christian Aid as a partner in developing the social action side of the gospel ministry. We are not an evangelistic agency; we are a Christian development agency – making the face of the gospel visible through our solidarity with all who challenge poverty. It is sometimes suggested that the word ‘Christian’ in our title does not help us with the public. During Christian Aid Week an article in The Guardian suggested that people are using a new excuse for not giving to Christian Aid: one about us being linked to the churches, seen by some as out of date, anti-women and anti-cultural equality – part of the oppression of the past, not part of a future of opportunity. But we believe Christian Aid is a vision of a church that is entirely connected to a world of justice for all, especially the most vulnerable. As such, we are proud to be the churches’ agency. We hope that what we stand for and seek to do is evidence that the churches are part of God’s future for humankind, not agents of that which is passing away.

any other large and powerful charity. We are too small and can never really make much of a difference. None of us should be afraid of the debate about how to tackle poverty. The churches’ work in this area cannot be exempt from critical assessment. Poverty is remarkably persistent. Often when you seem to make progress something happens to set it back. Are we wasting our money and our time? Crucial to Christian Aid is its partnership working. All our history tells us that building up a community’s local and voluntary endeavours is not only the most effective way of tackling deprivation and need, but also the way to build freedom and democracy. When you work with local partners you help create opportunity – for women, for the disenfranchised, for culturally excluded communities. Poverty will be tackled bottom-up first – through a community’s capacity to build the structures of its own life. When you visit our partners – struggling for land rights in dalit communities in India or liberating women into power in Mozambique – you see how vital this approach really is. We can be a big player in the development world of the UK and Ireland provided we continue to work in genuine partnership with those who are seeking to roll back poverty and discrimination in their own communities.

2. Are we relevant to the issue? Christian Aid might be

3. Are we too ‘political’? They

attacked from both ends. We are too big and have become just like

said that of us when we fought apartheid. They are saying it of us about the trade campaign. We do

We hope that what we stand for and seek to do is evidence that the churches are part of God’s future for humankind

FIFTY YEARS AGO, when Christian Aid was a small and very young body, we were not talking as we are today about the threats to our environment or about global terrorism. Then we were entering the era of independence, of the struggle against apartheid and the hopes associated with the ‘wind of change’ beginning to sweep through Africa. We knew little or nothing of an international order or the challenges of new technologies, new communications and a liberalised economic order. The fundamentals, however, are the same. Christian Aid exists to challenge poverty in our world, to expose its causes and challenge and support the churches and the powerful to take the action needed to resist the fatalistic doctrine that there is nothing we can do. Christian Aid is the formal development agency of 39 denominations in Britain and Ireland. The churches are there to hold us to account over what we say and do. In this, there are three important questions to consider:

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Christian Aid produces a wide range of resources for prayer and reflection. Call 020 7523 2225 or visit www.christianaid.org.uk

Picture: Christian Aid/Steven Buckley

not know what we are talking about! It is the experts on the global economy in the West who know best. Our politics are biased, our economics are naïve… you have heard it all before. But we are giving voice to a different perspective. Those we work with are not fools. They see the outcome of the impact of powerful global forces in a liberal economic order. It’s not that we have the answers. We do not have an economic programme for the reform of the international systems of finance and governance. But we can set the agenda for the questions and give voice to those who are often silenced or unable to speak and

who need to tell of the devastating impact of what is happening in their local communities. In Kenya people said to me, ‘Your abuse of the environment leading to global warming is destroying our harvest and the people are short of food.’ Are we going to think of the world’s poor when we think environment or only about how we can keep our own lifestyle going a little longer? The local economies of the developing world need a voice because they have no real power over the international order. The world we are living in is getting more fragile. Its victims are, as ever, the weakest. Life for

agencies like Christian Aid will get more uncertain in the next decade. Poverty is manifestly not going away, in spite of the grand schemes of governments and the international order. That is why Christian Aid is crucial to the witness of the church to the gospel: that must be good news to the poor. Christians and others who have caught a vision of a future shaped in hope will connect with Christian Aid and bodies like it. Stirring up the churches to become agencies that turn hope into action is a major agenda for us. We are not in the business of preserving the present order, but of changing it. That is a challenge for us all.

Above: Christian, relevant and ‘political’ supporters on the 14 September march for trade justice

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Do theing right th

Winning the poo vote Pictures: Christian Aid/Elaine Duigenan, Kati Dshedshorov, Andrew Njoroge

Christian Aid’s pr manager Kate Wills looks at the success of our global garden and eco-house in raising awareness of the impact of climate change ‘MUM, CAN I collect my gerbil poo to make alternative fuel sticks.’ Needless to say, the eight-year-old boy’s mother looked rather horrified and mouthed ‘thanks a lot’ to me! Her young son had been inspired by poo sticks that communities in Bangladesh make to save on wood and to recycle animal dung and kitchen waste. ‘All I’d need to do is roll it up with my leftover rice, leave it to dry, then you could cook with it, Mum. It helps save the world.’ Visitors to Christian Aid’s global garden and eco-house at Grand Designs Live at the Birmingham NEC in October had to slalom around a host of children exploring climate change in the developing world. Some were peering through the window of our Honduran house searching for killer beetles that couldn’t live in an eco-wall, other were up

26

to their arms in our African conservation garden looking for composting worms. BBC Breakfast featured the story of Global Garden designer Diarmuid Gavin’s visit to Kenya to see Christian Aid’s work helping people farm more efficiently in the higher temperatures. And environment correspondent Sarah Mukarjee watched the feature being built for a piece on the lunchtime news. By the end of Sunday 8 October, some 42,000 visitors had attended the show at which Christian Aid’s feature was the largest and most eye-catching on display. Nestled among whirlpool baths, patio heaters and greenhouses was a different world – a group of houses and gardens telling the story of climate change hitting the world’s poorest people and how Christian Aid’s projects

are helping. Visitors had the chance to walk through Asia, Central America and Africa, and see how communities face daily challenges but how

Impressed: Kevin McCloud simple ideas they and our partners are developing are changing lives. It was the practical nature of the projects that seemed to catch the imagination of public and celebrities alike. Diarmuid Gavin marvelled at

the determination of communities in droughtridden east Africa, working together to gather every ounce of water they had access to, whether it be collecting water from roofs or floors, or piping springs to a village tap. Many visitors were especially impressed with the recreation of a tree sapling nursery where remote villages in Honduras work together to replant the devastated forests, ensuring there are trees to hold the land together, which helps to prevent landslides and keep water in the soil. For Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud the display literally brought home the need for us in the UK and Ireland to act now on making our own homes more environmentally friendly. ‘Sustainability has moved from being a fringe issue to

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Eco-tip: Switch to a renewable electricity provider and remember to turn off your appliances when not in use – you could save on average £37 a year. Visit www.switchandgive.com/christianaid to compare deals something that touches every aspect of our lives,’ he said. And Diarmuid concluded: ‘We can all make a difference. It would be great if you were inspired to make changes to your lifestyle to help lower your carbon contributions to climate change.’ If you didn’t catch the eco-house at Grand Designs Live, check out the virtual tour at www.christianaid.org.uk and look out for news of its next destination. You can also find out about some of the eco-projects featured and help them reach more communities in our Present Aid gift catalogue (see story, right). Christian Aid couldn’t have

Quacking ideas for Christmas gifts

Inspired: Diarmuid Gavin produced the displays without the help and donations of many companies and individuals. Thanks especially to Amulree Exotics and Swan Country Homes. For a full list see www.christianaid.org.uk/ ecohouse/thankyou

Be green and give!

eBay watch IF SUPPORTERS use eBay to sell unwanted goods, they now have the option of donating some or all of the proceeds to Christian Aid. All they need to do is nominate Christian Aid as their chosen charity in the ‘pricing and duration’ stage when setting up an item to sell. The money goes directly to Christian Aid. So far, more than £1,000 has been raised as a result. Christian Aid is not in a position to sell items on eBay itself though, so please don’t send in your old silver spoons! For full details of how it works, visit www. eBay.co.uk/charity

if you select a mosquito net, the money will go into the healthcare fund. Have you got a friend who wants to do something about climate change? Why not buy them a tree sapling for £35, which could help to replace forests devastated by indiscriminate logging, or perhaps a fuel-efficient stove for £28? Is your church looking for a new way to donate to charity at Christmas? Why not build a ‘virtual nativity’. The idea is to raise money collectively, then choose from a handful of gifts that represent a key area of Christian Aid’s work and a figure from the nativity scene. So, while a gift of £75 for carpentry tools could represent the figure of Joseph, a donation of £4,100 for a health worker’s salary in the Occupied Palestinian Territories could symbolise the star of Bethlehem. Whatever you choose, please make sure you choose it from Present Aid. Go to www.presentaid.org or call 0845 3300 500.

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Pictures: Getty Images

RECYCLE YOUR old mobile phone using the freepost envelope provided in this issue of Christian Aid News, and £3 will go to help Christian Aid’s work around the world. You can also be sure that your phone will be reconditioned or properly recycled so that none of its toxic elements end up in the environment. Thank you to everyone who donated phones last year, helping to raise around £30,000 – we hope to beat that total this year! To order more freepost envelopes call 08700 787 788. If you collect 20 or more phones, call recycling partner Greener Solutions on 020 8274 4040 to arrange a free courier collection.

WHEN CHRISTIAN Aid’s Present Aid catalogue falls out of this copy of Christian Aid News, please make use of it. With the Christmas shopping season upon us, it’s an invaluable source of gift ideas for people who would really like to put a bit of meaning back into their seasonal present-giving. All the gifts are examples of how Christian Aid works in developing countries More than £2.7 million was raised through Present Aid last Christmas and this year it looks as if it could raise more than £4.5 million. The demand for interesting ethical gifts is increasing and Christian Aid has responded with six different project funds to choose gifts from: agriculture and livestock, emergency and disaster preparedness, healthcare including HIV/ AIDS, power and energy, training and education, and water and environment. So, if you buy some ducks for a friend, your money will go into the agricultural and livestock fund;

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Inpuatil

Inspired? Enraged? Send your views to the editor. Christian Aid News, PO Box 100, London SE1 7RT or email canews@christian-aid.org

your m

Trading standards John McGhie, in your cover story (Christian Aid News, issue 33) says that the collapse of the World Trade Doha round is ‘a body blow to the world’s poor’. However, the World Development Movement (WDM) – originally funded by Christian Aid, and members with it in Make Poverty History – says that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’, and concludes that the world’s poor are better off without this agreement. I know that world trade rules are a complex subject, but you have chosen to simplify the issue by using the phrase ‘body blow’ and implying that the result is unambiguously bad. Your partners in WDM have simplified it the opposite way. To those of us who regularly correspond with our MPs on these matters, this hardly makes it easy! Could you perhaps explain why WDM and yourselves disagree so fundamentally – and give us some guidance as to what we now say to our MPs? Rev Gethin Rhys, Pontypridd Dr Clare Melamed, senior trade analyst, replies: ‘It may look as if Christian Aid and WDM are saying opposite things about the collapse of the World Trade Organisation talks. In fact, we both agree that the deal on the table at the moment that the talks collapsed would have been a disaster for poor people. If that was the only alternative it is better that the talks are scrapped – we are completely with WDM, Oxfam and Make Poverty History on that. But we strongly believe it could have been different.The real scandal is that the EU and US used their power to try to force a bad deal on the rest of the WTO, and it’s this outrage that we chose to highlight in our reaction to

28

A place to think Thank you for your letters and emails – we welcome all your views. This issue: your responses to articles on trade talks, Karen refugees and the launch of our Middle East Appeal, plus contributions to the debate on corruption, HIV and population

the outcome. However, the collapse does give all WTO members a chance to go back to the beginning and agree a good deal for poor people. It’s important that the UK government takes a lead on this in the EU, and together with other member states forces the European Commission to fundamentally change its approach to trade talks. We should be asking our MPs to put pressure on the government to do this.

A duty to give I don’t think the reply to a letter about corruption (Input, issue 33) made a great job of dealing with the issue. To seek to identify sub-Saharan African corruption with that of Europe, to try to suggest that we are really all in the same boat, is inaccurate and unhelpful. We are not. It is tempting to speculate how very different Africa would be if only we had honest and competent governments and if only we could get back the billions stashed away in Swiss bank accounts. It’s tempting, too, to weary of the constant demands for help when so much is badly used or diverted into private pockets. But as Christians we really have no choice. The need of the poor and the sick is great and the need is now and our Lord’s command is

clear. In the short term, apart from prayer, all we can do is ensure that as much as is possible of our giving is done through Christian channels. If governments and officials are involved then a significant percentage loss is to be expected. It is unlikely that governments and officials will be shamed into behaving differently. Nor will stressing the reality of the need of the people make a difference. Great wealth is highly regarded in much of Africa, regardless of where it has come from. This limits your choices as to what you might try to do to change things. Malcolm Brown, via email

Middle East bias In your Autumn issue you had an article Appeal launched for Lebanon and Gaza. Why not also launch an appeal for Israel? Since Israel left Gaza a year ago, Gaza has made war on Israel, sending hundreds of rockets raining down on Israeli towns. Lebanon launched an unprovoked attack on Israel’s civilians which resulted in 150 Israeli deaths and widespread devastation to 50 Israeli towns. The cost to Israel is over £2.8 billion, which is a lot of money for a small country. The impression that you give to Israel, the Jewish people worldwide and, in fact everyone, is that you are

politically biased and reward terrorism with aid money. If you are a Christian organisation you should ‘love your neighbour as yourself’. In the case of Christian Aid does this only apply to Muslims, Christians and other faith groups – but not Jews? Do you actually ‘love the Jewish people’ too? Will you back up your words with action? What is your official policy towards Israel? Philip Lumley, Epsom Sarah Malian, Middle East communications officer, replies: The response of Christian Aid and its partners to this summer’s conflict in Lebanon, Israel and the Gaza Strip was not based on who started the war. The Israeli government was able to assist those affected by Hezbollah shelling by reshuffling its budget to allocate funds. The extent of the bombing in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip coupled with Gaza’s dire humanitarian situation is such that public money is inadequate to address the level of need: Christian Aid works to try and bridge this gap. We refute that we are biased against the state of Israel – and so would our Jewish Israeli partner organisations. We believe in the right of Israelis to live in a secure, peaceful state. We also believe that Palestinians and Lebanese should be afforded that same right.

It’s just batty Many thanks for the excellent article by Ramani Leathard on the Karen refugees on the Burma/Thai border (Christian Aid News, issue 33). It is pleasing to see that Christian Aid is giving support from this country to these people who surely deserve so much

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Events better than the terrible hand in life they have been given. This support is in vivid contrast to the attitude of the UK government. To my knowledge it hasn’t given a penny of aid or relief to Karen and other refugees from Burma. Yet a grant of £120,000 has been approved for a survey of bats in Karen state. You couldn’t make it up could you? Peter Sagar, via email

Unspoken issue I fully agree with your aims of fighting poverty. However, I feel that the underlying problem is not mentioned – the world population is either approaching, or has approached, the point at which the earth and its resources cannot sustain it. We may mitigate the effects of climate change and redistribute resources, but if we do not limit our numbers these actions will ultimately be in vain, and Mother Nature will return the earth to equilibrium. Neil Hancox, Abingdon

Wishy-washy The article From ABC to SAVE (Christian Aid News, Issue 32) has incensed me. As a Christian, sometimes you have to stand up and say, ‘This is the way to do this.’ I am well aware that the world does not operate this way and that’s mainly why it is in such a mess. That does not mean that Christian organisations should ‘water down’ their ideals and messages to make them palatable for people who have never been taught right and wrong, nor have any framework on which to base their lives. I believe your change of policy is neither ‘holistic nor compassionate’, but just as ‘wishy-washy’ as everyone else. Mrs A Brown, Co Durham

■ 19 November Rich Man, Poor Man 4pm, Christ Church URC, Westgate-on-Sea, West Sussex Workshop and worship exploring issues relating to poverty and politics. Contact 01843 832473 ■ 25 November Oxford Christmas Lights Festival 9am-4pm, Oxford City Centre Volunteers needed to shake buckets. Contact Harriet Griffin on 01865 246818 ■ 29 November Advent Hope Service 7.30-9pm, Marlborough Road Methodist Church, St Albans Marking World AIDS Day. With John Bell of the Iona Community. Contact Harriet Griffin, as above ■ 30 November Advent Hope Service 6.30pm, The Church of St John the Baptist, St John’s Square, Cardiff Readings, prayers, reflections, music and a chance to hear about the work of The National Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. Contact Robin Samuel on 02920 844657 ■ 30 November Advent Hope Service 7.30-9.30pm, Portsmouth Cathedral A special service responding to the global HIV/AIDS crisis. Contact Penny Haynes on 01202 840764 ■ 1 December Advent Hope Service 6.15-8pm St Nicholas’ Cathedral, Newcastle A World AIDS Day service with John Bell of the Iona Community and ecumenical dance and movement group, Beyond the Barricades. Contact Sarah Moon on 0191 228 0115 ■ 2 December Advent Hope Service 7.30-9.30pm, Romsey Abbey, Hampshire A service responding to the HIV/AIDS crisis with Christian Aid director Dr Daleep Mukarji, Dr Evie Vernon of the United Theological College of the West Indies, Romsey Abbey Girls Choir and Romsey School Choir. Contact Penny Haynes on 01202 840764 ■ 3 December Advent Hope Service Time tba, Malmesbury Abbey First of three Advent Hope services in the West on our HIV/AIDS work in Jamaica. With Dr Evie Vernon, and music from Martin Nicholls, Caroline Redfern and Castle School Steel Band. Contact Nigel Quarrell on 01452 309115

Artists embrace Christian Aid SEVERAL HIGH-profile artists from the north east have joined forces with Christian Aid to hold an exhibition in Newcastle this month to raise awareness and funds for people living with HIV. ArtAid: Embrace at The Art Works Galleries in Ouseburn on 24-25 November (10am-5pm, daily) will feature around 65 works by artists including Mary Ann Rogers and Chilean-born Enrique Azocar. There will be a public auction on the second evening in aid of HIV partner organisations in Africa. Also for auction will be sculptures made from decommissioned guns for the BBC Ground Force Africa garden, and works by Matt Forster of The Art Works Galleries. Contact 0191 228 0115 for auction details. ■ 3 December Advent Carol Service 7.30pm, The Minster, Church Street, Preston Featuring the Christian Aid Choir North West. Contact Arton Medd on 01524 64730 ■ 4 December Advent Hope Service 7.30pm, St Peter’s House, Oxford Road, Manchester A carol service featuring the work of Christian Aid partners. With international director Paul Valentin. Contact Kerry Starkey on 01925 241222 ■ 5 December Advent Hope Service Second of three services in the West focusing on HIV/AIDS work in Jamaica. Details as for 3 December. Contact Nigel Quarrell on 01452 309115 ■ 5 December Advent Hope Service 7.30pm, Hoole URC, Hoole Road, Chester Music led by the Lydian Singers. Contact Kerry Starkey on 01925 241222 ■ 5 December Advent Hope Service 7.30-9pm, Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford Marking World AIDS Day. With the Rev Dr Giles Fraser, vicar of Putney. Contact Harriet Griffin, on 01865 264818 ■ 5-8 December Illegal Portraits 11am-3pm, daily Human Rights Action Centre, Amnesty International, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London EC2 An exhibition, by Italian photojournalist Gianni Dal Mas, of Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic. Contact 020 7354 0883 ■ 6 December Christian Aid Quiet Day for Advent 10.15am-3.30pm, Whalley Abbey

Retreat House, Lancashire Reflections on Christian Aid’s work. With Rt Revd John Goddard, Bishop of Burnley. Cost £20, including lunch. Contact Kerry Starkey on 01925 241222 ■ 6 December Advent Hope Service 7.30-9pm, St John’s and St Peter’s Church, Darnley Road, Birmingham Festive evening of carols and reflections. With Christian Aid director Dr Daleep Mukarji, Dr Evie Vernon, and the Re:Mission Gospel Choir. Mulled wine and seasonal refreshments. Contact Charlotte Marshall on 0121 200 2283 ■ 7 December Advent Hope Service Forde Abbey, Dorset The last of three services in the West focusing on our HIV work in Jamaica. Details as for 3 December. Contact Nigel Quarrell on 01452 309115 ■ 7 December Carolaid 7pm, All Saints and Martyrs, Wood Street, Middleton An evening of carols and readings featuring Crompton House School band and choir. Plus, refreshments and Christmas gifts and cards. Contact David Blatchford on 0161 643 1365 ■ 7 December Advent Hope Service 7.30-9pm, Lancing College Chapel, Lancing, West Sussex Carol service to mark World AIDS Day. With guest John Bell of the Iona Community leading the worship, and music by Brighton Goes Gospel. Contact Holly Ellson on 01273 470504 ■ 11 December Advent Reflection 10.30am, Luther King House, Brighton Grove, Manchester With Friends of Sabeel, a Palestinian partner organisation. Contact John Logan on 01942 214656

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Final Word WATER FOR ALL

Green thumbs up Green-fingered guru Diarmuid Gavin reveals the plot to Christian Aid News What makes you cry?

Silly, weepy movies. Where is the most remarkable place you have ever visited?

Kenya, with Christian Aid (above), to research the eco-garden. To see the diversity of the landscape and the people was a pure joy.

on what they can do with their land and literally help save lives. What miracle would you like to work?

Food for everyone. What’s your favourite food?

A good lasagne – especially the ones cooked at Nico’s in Dame Street, Dublin.

Which book or song do you most wish you’d written?

Which living person inspires you most?

Nothing Compares 2U, made famous by Sinead O’Connor, but written by Prince.

Oh, that has to be Laurence LlewellynBowen.

Who would you choose to be shipwrecked with?

Who would play you in a film of your life?

Jade Goody.

Tom Cruise. Isn’t it obvious?

If you ruled the world, what is the first law you’d introduce?

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done – and would you do it again?

I’d ban violence of any kind.

Dancing live on TV every Saturday night was petrifying.

Picture: Christian Aid/Andrew Njoroge, Sian Curry

Have you ever met an angel?

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Loads! In particular, one in Kenya. Her name was Margaret Kisilu and she works for BIDII, which is an organisation Christian Aid supports. They help educate so many people

What talent do you have, or think you have, which has so far been hidden from the general public?

I am a world-class procrastinator.

Diarmuid Gavin first blossomed at the Chelsea Flower Show in 1995 when he won the bronze medal. Soon after, he was hired by the BBC to front their gardening programmes, including Gardeners’ World. At Hampton Court in 2004, he saw designer Claire Whitehouse’s Golden Rose-winning garden based on trade justice in Senegal. Inspired by this, he agreed to design Christian Aid’s eco-garden to combat climate change at the 2006 Grand Designs Live exhibition at the Birmingham NEC. Diarmuid has also branched out into the celebrity reality TV shows Strictly Come Dancing and show-jumping contest Only Fools on Horses. He lives and works – mainly as a garden designer – with his family in both London and Dublin.

Giving the office something to talk about around the water-cooler THE LIFE-GIVING partnership between Christian Aid and AquAid is sustained by bodies like The Black Country Purchasing Consortium. They have chosen AquAid as their water-cooler supplier because they know that funds raised for Christian Aid – 30p for every 19-litre bottle of water sold – will transform countless lives around the world. Dudley councillor and consortium member Charles Fraser Macnamara, explains: ‘Water is something far too many of us take for granted and there are those in the world who simply do not have the resources we enjoy in the UK. At Dudley Council we are happy to support the AquAid project and play our part in raising awareness of the work of Christian Aid.’ The impact of their donations can be seen in the village of Gwavamutangwi, in Zimbabwe, where, with Christian Aid support, The Zimbabwean Council of Churches (ZCC) is working to make a tangible difference to villagers’ daily lives. Bekesela (pictured above pouring out water to wash and to make breakfast) used to spend two hours each day collecting water from the nearest borehole 2km away. With long queues, the journey sometimes took up to five hours. ZCC has helped her to build a rainwater-harvesting tank on her homestead. Having water on tap at home has made life so much easier. ‘There’s so much to do,’ Bekesela explains. ‘These tanks lessen our burden. We are very happy.’

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Could your holiday make a difference?

Classic Tours

s. i s r i e h T

Planning next year’s holiday? What about doing something different in 2007? Take one of our once-in-a-lifetime challenges and raise funds for Christian Aid. You could visit our partner organisations overseas, run in some of the world’s most prestigious marathons or participate in exciting events in the UK. Challenge yourself – change the world. For a brochure please call 020 7523 2229 or email events@christian-aid.org

Christian Aid encourages all its participants in overseas challenges and marathons to offset their carbon emissions. My Climate is an organisation that helps you to offset CO2 emissions. Find out more at www.myclimate.co.uk


F O R

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Tree £35/€51

How about a nice tree for that lanky cousin of yours? At presentaid.org there are 30 fun gift ideas – from just £8/€12 – that will be loved by everybody, including the poor communities around the world that benefit, whatever their race or religion. The planting of new trees in Honduras, for example, provides protection from the tropical storms that constantly threaten to wash away people’s homes and livelihoods. Simply make a purchase from our catalogue and we’ll send you a card with which you can tell your loved one how such a gift can change someone’s life. Visit presentaid.org or call

CAT s I X D E s I G N

0845 3300 500 (UK)/01 611 0801 (ROI).

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CHRISTIAN AID NEWS

Christian Aid News 34 - Winter 2006  

Christian Aid News 34 - Winter 2006

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