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December 2009

In this issue:               
>> Parishes launch 64th Christmas Appeal >> Hurricane Ida >> Climate Change - Churches to ring the alarm, NZ church leaders’ statement.
>> Food - faith groups ask WTO to recognise food as a basic human right.
>> Palestine - blotting out the other.
>> HIV and AIDS - latest report on global pandemic.
>> Pacific Tsunami - response update.
>> Darfur - a forgotten crisis?

• 1  World AIDS Day
• 2  International Day for the Abolition of Slavery
• 3  International Day of Disabled Persons
• 5  International Volunteer Day /Planet A events around the country
• 10 Human Rights Day
• 18 International Migrants Day
• Christmas Day

 

Parishes launch 64th Christmas Appeal
On 29 November parishes throughout the country launched the 64th Christmas Appeal asking New Zealanders to support the many partner groups working to end poverty.  This year’s theme is “Give us a Chance” and highlights how poor people want to be able to look after themselves.  They just need the chance to get clean water, nutritious food, education, better incomes and more. Your donations will give them this opportunity.

CWS hopes to raise over $600,000. “We realise that this year may be harder for many people with the economic recession biting,” says Pauline McKay, National Director. “Our concern is that whatever difficulties we face in New Zealand, the reality for poorer communities in developing countries is far worse. For many the coming year will be a matter of life and death.”

In 2009, the number of malnourished people in the world hit 1 billion people – nearly one out of every 6 people. It is reported that on average, a person dies every second as a direct or indirect result of poor nutrition. Yet the world produces enough food to feed double the global population. The problem is the inequities of distribution and access, issues CWS partners are helping to address.

Resource materials for the appeal are available featuring stories from Uganda, Gaza, the Philippines and Fiji. A new feature is a short audio visual presentation of photos of CWS partners set to music. They show in a moving way how your donations help people with the necessities of life.  You can also download or order an Advent Calendar with a difference. Children can add coins as they countdown to Christmas and see how people around the world are working to build better futures. See www.cws.org.nz for details.  Please give generously this Christmas.

Give Us A Chance
The latest edition of CWS’s magazine for children is now available.  It features the stories of Muhammad and Hadeel who live in Gaza, Palestine and looks at how children deal with the ongoing trauma from the Israeli military bombings of December 08/January 09. World Watch includes cartoons and games and is accompanied by a Leader’s Kit.

Hurricane Ida
El Salvador was hit by winds and rain of Hurricane Ida on 7- 8 November, discharging over 300 millimetres of rain in six hours. More than 150 people were killed in mud slides and over 13,000 people were left homeless. There are mudslides throughout the affected area, including some major ones covering houses, crops, and roads. Rivers have overflowed. 24 bridges have been affected, six of which are totally destroyed. The World Food Programme estimates some 10,000 will need food assistance in the coming months due to the loss of crops due to the flooding and mudslides.

CWS partners through ACT International have provided food, cooking utensils, clothing, trauma counselling, medicine, hygiene supplies and provisional roofing material.

Faith groups call for WTO to respect the right to food
CWS has joined other faith groups in the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) to sign a letter to Pascal Lamy, the Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). With a WTO Ministerial to be held in Geneva from 30 November to 2 December, the letter asks the organisation to respect the right to food as a human right as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. 
The letter calls for:
• The recognition of the right to food in the WTO negotiations.
• Just and sustainable agricultural production and trade systems.
• Safeguard measures that address import surges and price volatility and the right of all countries to produce for domestic consumption and ensure their food self-sufficiency.
The EAA initiated statement says, "We believe it is important for WTO members to uphold a common vision of the right to food, which allows countries to produce and have access to an adequate supply of food while ensuring a fair income for their food producers."
The letter said trade rules are needed that will end "dumping" of products in developing countries, referring to lucrative subsidies for farmers in developed countries.
It concludes, “Food, for life, is a matter of justice and should not be treated like any other commodity.  “Give us this day our daily bread” is a petition repeated by millions of Christians around the world every day as they pray the Lord’s Prayer.  This calls us to care for humanity and all of Creation, leads us to provide food to those who are in immediate and dire need, and simultaneously work to expose and eradicate the causes of hunger.  We believe that recognition of everyone’s right to adequate food is an important part of reaching this goal.”

Churches to ring the Alarm on Climate Change
The United Nations Summit on Climate Change runs from 7 – 18 December 2009.  Churches are invited to ring their bells, drums, shells to call people to prayer and action at 3 pm on Sunday 13 December.  It marks the midway point of the conference and enables New Zealand Churches to join a World Council of Churches’ supported initiative that will encircle the globe with prayer.  By sounding their bells or other instruments 350 times, participating churches will symbolize the 350 parts per million that mark the safe upper limit for CO2 in the atmosphere according to many scientists.

Over 700 people signed CWS’s Clean up the Climate postcard petition which has been sent to the Prime Minister and almost the same number on a Pacific Conference of Churches’ petition asking for an ambitious agreement and support for Climate Change refugees from the Pacific.  CWS is asking the New Zealand Government to support a binding 40 per cent cut in domestic emissions by 2020 at Copenhagen and for any agreement to provide poor countries with the means to adapt to the changing environment Poor countries need additional assistance to develop with clean technology and to escape poverty.

CWS is joining with other agencies and groups to support a series of concerts, walks and events on Saturday 5 December in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to show the support for the New Zealand Government to take a stronger stance in the talks.  More information is available at: www.cws.org.nz

Statement from New Zealand Churches
New Zealand Church leaders have joined international efforts calling for bolder action on climate change.  In launching the statement Archbishop John Dew of Wellington said that the world is “perched on the brink of a Kairos moment” – a moment which in scripture is a moment of opportunity, grace and truth.  In the statement the leaders note that recent debate in New Zealand focuses on the costs of meeting higher obligations but not “the costs of doing too little, the benefits from cleaning up the environment, and of tackling climate change.”  The statement is available at www.cws.org.nz

Church leaders call for reunification of Korea
In October the World Council of Churches’ General Secretary, Rev Dr Samuel Kobia, met with North Korean president Kim Yong-nam before attending an international consultation in Hong Kong on the challenging situation facing the peninsula. The “Tozanso Process”, which brings together Christians from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the north and the Republic of Korea in the south, as well as representatives of partner churches from other nations, was initiated by the World Council of Churches (WCC) in 1984.   Subsequently the WCC issued a statement urging the United States of America and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to hold bilateral talks. 

In a 12 November letter to the governments of North and South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the US, Samuel Kobia conveyed "alarm and disappointment" at the "breakdown of the Six-Party Talks", which has "led to actions that escalate tensions and confrontations".

A multilateral framework launched by these governments in 2003 to address the North Korean nuclear programme, the Six-Party Talks have been stalled since the beginning of 2009, when a contentious rocket launch put the North Korean government and the other parties at loggerheads. Further North Korean nuclear testing contributed to the stalemate.

"We urge each of you to return to the negotiating table prepared to deal with the difficult but eminently solvable issues before you", wrote Kobia. He expressed the conviction that "negotiations which could build a lasting peace in the Korean peninsula are within your governments' power".

Israel Palestine: Blotting out the Other
Blotting out the Other: Israeli – Palestinian Mutual Exclusion
Dr. Bernard Sabella
Al Quds – Jerusalem
Saturday, October 30th, 2009

At a time when some still hope for better days to come in the process of peace making between Israelis and Palestinians, the realities on the ground take a different shape. Israel has constructed the separation wall and put up checkpoints all over the West Bank. Gaza Strip remains blockaded for more than four years now. On the Palestinian side, what appears at first instance accommodation to Israeli control measures necessitates a closer look. A majority of Palestinians adopt a style of life that would minimize their contacts with Israelis, except for the most necessary like crossing a checkpoint or exiting from Jericho to Jordan or official transactions that necessitate contact. The same way that the Israelis have concretely separated themselves from the Palestinians, the Palestinians by their turn have developed psychological and practical mechanisms to separate themselves from the Israelis. These may appear on the surface as accommodation to the control mechanisms imposed by the Israelis. The primary motives for Palestinians to separate stem from the fact that they need to economize on time as much as possible and to go on with their daily lives. Crossing a checkpoint, the Israeli guard that stands on duty becomes a number exactly as the Palestinian to him/her is treated as a number. It is rare to personalize the relationship. The practice of passing a checkpoint is how to get through it as quickly as possible. Israeli guards are aware of this fact and hence, often on purpose, take their time in checking people through in order to assert that they are in control. The moment a Palestinian passes the checkpoint, the border or the separation wall, he/she leaves the Israelis behind, in effect blotting them out of his being. This enables one to go on with life as if there were no Israeli occupation checkpoints and no Israeli guards.

The essence of the blotting out mechanisms, on the Palestinian side, is to contain the effects of Israeli control mechanisms. Thus the Palestinians live in two cognitive worlds: the one that needs to deal and improvise when in contact with Israelis, particularly those responsible for control measures and the second is the one that is free of Israel and the Israelis. Avoiding the Israelis is motivated not out of fear but out of the economic and practical utility that allows Palestinians to avail themselves of time and space needed to go on with daily living relatively unhindered. For Palestinians who are forcibly confronted by the Jewish settlers who wish to expand their illegal settlements on account of Palestinian properties, the situation involves direct confrontation often provoked by the actions of the settlers. These Palestinians, including those in Bil’in and Ni’lin villages threatened by the construction of the Separation Wall and those in East Jerusalem threatened by home demolitions and evictions, develop confrontation mechanisms that seek to affirm their rights and to put into question the measures adopted by settler groups and by the Israeli military, municipality and other official agencies. The Palestinians in the middle of confrontation go on with the various chores of daily living: picking olives, attending school, going to work, upholding religious obligations, undertaking social visits and the other prerequisites for maintaining community. The burden on these ‘front line’ communities is that they cannot, like the majority of Palestinians, adopt liberally the blotting out mechanisms as they have to deal with physical presence of Israelis and Jewish settlers. And yet in their own ways as they strive to maintain a semblance of normalcy in their daily undertakings they too have developed blotting out mechanisms.

Palestinians and Israelis are on parting ways. The realities today on the ground affirm the need for the establishment of two states as natural conclusion to the mutual exclusivity experienced by both Palestinians and Israelis. The ongoing expansion and building in the illegal Jewish settlements on the West Bank could torpedo the prospect of the two-state model and could in effect increase the likelihood of a de facto one state for both Palestinians and Israelis. The priority for Palestinians remains ending Israeli occupation. But as this is not a plausible prospect for the time being, the blotting out mechanisms ensure not simply mutual exclusivity but Palestinian self and communal preservation in the face of most difficult odds.  

Latest AIDS statistics verify need for sustained, comprehensive response
Christian leaders in the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance have welcomed the latest statistics on the HIV and AIDS epidemic indicating a decline in new infections over the past eight years, while emphasising the need to expand comprehensive treatment and prevention services to continue the positive trend.

UNAIDS and the World Health Organization released its annual AIDS Epidemic Update on 24 November, indicating that 33.4 million people were living with HIV in 2008, up slightly from 2007. The higher figure is credited to increased availability to treatment allowing more people to live longer. Overall, the data indicates that new infections have dropped 17 percent over the past eight years.

Despite areas of progress, worrying gaps exist. Children still account for 2.1 million of those living with HIV, although the number of deaths has declined. The number of children newly infected with HIV in 2008 was roughly 18% lower than in 2001.  The report also highlighted that as modes of transmission shift within countries – such as from injecting drug use to heterosexual sex – HIV prevention approaches have so far not been able to shift effectively.

“It highlights the challenge of HIV prevention,” says Manoj Kurian, Programme Executive for Health and Healing, World Council of Churches. “No single approach is effective, but we need to use the combined efforts of the variety of organizations involved in the response to raise awareness, share information and resources, and provide the support necessary for culturally appropriate and evidence-based forms of prevention.”

Pacific Tsunami Response Update
CWS has sent NZ$10,000 to the Free Wesley Church of Tonga to replace two boats lost in the tsunami. The boats are needed for the people of Niuatoputapu to get to their plantations on neighbouring Tafahi Island so they can resume their livelihoods.  The boats are also used for fishing and will be fitted with outboard motors, safety equipment and fishing gear. 

An additional NZ$20,000 has been sent to the Lower Hutt Family Centre, Anglican Social Services, which is working with its long time partner Afeafe o Vaetoefaga i Vaialua in Vaialua, Nofoali’i in North West Upolu. Their response to the Samoa tsunami aims ‘to address the need to restore wellbeing and resilience to people, families, children and youth in the village severely impacted by the tsunami of 29th September 2009’.  Key activities so far have included an ‘initial trauma response phase’ (6 weeks) working with families and children who have been severely traumatised by the tsunami.  The next phase is a trauma counselling community outreach training programme for youth facilitators in tsunami affected villages, and through that programme to train youth leaders. 

Darfur Must not be Forgotten
Darfur is in danger of becoming a forgotten emergency, according to Nyika Musiyazwiriyo, the outgoing Head of Programmes for the joint ACT/Caritas Darfur Programme. The UN says that out of Darfur’s 6 million people, 4.5 million still need support and 2.7 million people remain displaced throughout the region.

“Thousands of people are still living in camps,” explains Nyika. “Peace and security remain elusive - people do not yet feel secure enough to leave the camps and return home. And such living conditions mean people do not have the opportunity to build their own lives. They still need humanitarian aid to survive. “Food, water and health care - all of these essential and basic things - still need to be provided on a daily basis as people cannot access these themselves.”

CWS is supporting the ACT/Caritas programme, which includes providing clean drinking water for nearly 300,000 people living in eight densely populated camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in South and West Darfur, as well as in villages and host communities in the areas around these camps. The aim is to provide an average of 15 litres of clean, safe and portable water for each person living in the camps every day. This means digging new bore holes or wells, introducing motorised water bladders, or ensuring existing water supplies are well maintained. In the last three months, ACT/Caritas has provided over 200,000m3 of safe drinking water to these camps – enough to fill 80 Olympic swimming pools.

 

Christmas greetings from CWS and our overseas partners.
Thank you for your support in 2009!