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CWS Update June 2015

A monthly news bulletin that takes a look at development issues, provides analysis of global justice issues and keeps you updated with the work of CWS. An alternative to mainstream media sources. Past issues can be read here

June 2015

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For Your Diary
20 June World Refugee Day

21 June Refugee Sunday in Presbyterian and Methodist Churches

1 July  Fast for the Climate

5 July Refugee Sunday in Anglican Churches

6 July International Day of Cooperatives

11 July World Population Day

"All around the world we are seeing families fleeing violence. The numbers are massive – but we must not forget that these are mothers and fathers, daughters and sons. People who led ordinary lives before war forced them to flee.”

António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Two students take a break from their English language class at the Sabra Centre in Lebanon.   Photo: DSPR Lebanon

Refugees Seek a Future
Close to the Shatilla camp in Western Beirut, DSPR has run the Sabra Centre for over 60 years.  Now catering for refugees from Syria as well as Palestinians, it is an educational oasis.  From preschool to programmes for students with learning difficulties, vocational training and extra tuition, they manage it all on a shoe string budget.  The refugees teach in and help run the programmes, making sure students can continue to learn.

DSPR has successfully organised for 9th and 12th grade students to return to Syria to sit their national exams.  Lebanon has closed its borders to new refugees from  Syria and those who leave cannot come back.  For the second year, DSPR has negotiated with government to guarantee their return as well as sorting travel documents, accommodation, transport and safe passage.  In mid-May they safely escorted 136 students to sit their Brevet (9th grade) exam and then 96 for their baccalaureate—DSPR was unable to get the right permits for them all and some parents were worried their sons would be recruited for the army in Syria.  They now wait for the results but are most grateful for this opportunity to secure a future for their children.  Your gifts to CWS have helped make it happen.

Refugee Day: Churches Stand with the Refugee
Daily reports of people fleeing war and persecution demand our attention.  CWS is supporting calls to increase the quota for refugees coming to New Zealand.  Churches are encouraged to use resources for Refugee Sunday.  John Bluck writes “Their Only Security is Us”. 

Nicaragua: Better Returns
CEPAD (Council of Evangelical Churches) is training small farmers to deal with increased drought and unpredictable weather.  They helped farmers in 6 communities diversify and introduced new techniques to provide more food and income.  In 2014 CEPAD trained 432 Community Agricultural Promoters to lead local groups.  The farmers built 727 metres of dykes and 7,658m of irrigation channels.  Now with 41 new varieties of crops they are better prepared for the changing climate—Nicaragua is the fourth most affected country.  It is estimated 46% of people experience water shortages.  With strong community support structures in place, CEPAD is laying the ground work for 42 new communities to join the programme.

(Photo: Farmers discuss improved crops, thanks to CEPAD training.)

Vanuatu: Rebuild Phase
ACT Alliance reports on steady progress after  Cyclone Pam.  Green leafy vegetables dominate food markets and starchy vegetables from the less damaged north are commanding twice the normal price.  The government is distributing food in the worst affected areas and repairing or rebuilding infrastructure.  ACT has helped 2,083 people with seeds and fencing kits.  Food and water supplies helped 17,590 people.  The priority is to build/repair homes, community facilities and infrastructure.  Reflecting on their efforts, ACT reports Ni-Vanuatu attending the cluster meetings organising the immediate emergency response found it difficult to contribute to the process.  The Vanuatu Christian Council is looking at how church buildings used for evacuation shelter could have government funding to cover costs.

Nepal: Rains Begin 
The beginning of monsoon rains in Nepal signal new challenges for aid efforts.  ACT Alliance members are distributing corrugated iron and other materials to protect people in more isolated areas.  Landslides and other dangers will make access challenging.  CWS is asking the NZ government to support immediate debt relief.  Nepal owes NZ$ 5.4 billion to the IMF, World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

Climate Justice Now
Earlier this month negotiations in Bonn failed  to make substantial progress on the text of the UN climate agreement due to be finalised in December.  Concern is mounting about the growing gap between what is needed to slow down emissions and help countries mitigate against changes, and the willingness of governments to make the hard decisions.  As part of its campaign for climate justice, ACT Alliance is asking people to sign an online petition calling for drastic emissions cuts and help for the world’s poorest people struggling with its effects.

Bangladesh: Rana Plaza Compensation
More than two years after the collapse of the Rana Plaza building, CWS welcomed the Clean Clothes Campaign announcement that the Trust had reached its target.  The US$30 million fund will help compensate families who lost loved ones or clothing workers injured in April 2013.

CHS: Better Accountability to People Assisted
Communities and people affected by disaster, conflict and poverty have a new reference point.  CWS is an associate member of the newly merged Core Humanitarian Alliance which will improve how humanitarian work is delivered and accountability.

Sierra Leone: Chain Unbroken
With sadness and sometimes anger the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone reports daily on the state of Ebola.  They are desperate for an end to the virus that has destroyed so many lives and much of the economy.  Some people refuse to follow safe practice and so the virus spreads.  Please pray for the chain to break.


                                                                                                       
About Update

Update provides news, information and stories.  Reproduction of items is encouraged with attribution to CWS.  Current and back issues are available