CWS appeals for Haiti
CWS is supporting the initial ACT (Action by Churches Together) Alliance appeal for NZD $27 million to provide immediate relief assistance in Haiti following the magnitude 7.0 earthquake on January 12. ACT members working in the country lost offices and personnel but have been swift to respond to the desperate need that existed even before the earthquake struck. Reports suggest 60 – 80% of capital Port-au-Prince were destroyed and latest estimates of the death toll have reached 150,000. More than one million people are without shelter with no immediate prospects of shelter in camps. An estimated 130,000 have already relocated outside the city.
ACT members are distributing food, tarpaulins, blankets, water, water purification tablets, medical supplies to tens of thousands of affected Haitians in and beyond Port-au-Prince as well as sanitation, health care and psycho social care. They are also planning to offer cash for work schemes, assistance in agriculture and income generating activity, and reforestation programmes. Many challenges face the response effort including the weakness of government and institutions to coordinate relief efforts, lack of transport and congestion in the city, logistic difficulties, shortage of materials in country and the effects of the government strategy to resettle displaced people in rural areas where there are no resources to spare. There is a high risk that security for humanitarian workers may become unsafe.
CWS was relieved to hear that contact had been made with community development partner, the Institut Culturel Karl Leveque (ICKL). One staff member is still missing. The ICKL offices were destroyed in the quake. CWS staff member, Nick Clarke visited the organisation in Haiti in May last year and said that of all the places he had visited in recent years Haiti was the one that “least needs or deserves anything like this. The reality for many Haitians is that they are already trapped in what is a very harsh form of poverty,’’ he said. Donate online or phone 0800 74 73 72
ACT Alliance – A New Global Giant
The newly merged ACT International and ACT Development will be formally launched on 24 March, 2010 with Zambian-born John Nduna as General Secretary and former CWS director, Jill Hawkey, as deputy. It as already started operations, with the response to the Haiti earthquake its first test.
The ACT Alliance was formed last year and includes 150 agencies, churches and aid groups throughout the world. It has a common income of more than USD $2 billion per year with a staff of 40,000 including volunteers. The new ACT alliance will undertake emergency and development work as well as advocacy. CWS is a founding member.
New CWS resources
Give Us a Chance is the latest edition of Youth Topics. It focuses on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals with an eye-catching poster with activities for young people. Please order from firstname.lastname@example.org
CWS worship and background material for World Water Day on March 22 will this year focus on water quality. They will be available from the office or website from 12 February.
Haiti: Slowly a return to normal life
Slowly food and water have started moving in Haiti. Aid workers have been struggling day and night to distribute goods and relief materials, as Haitians use their imagination and initiative to create new lives for themselves. Commercial activity is slowly recovering as an increasing number of vendors return to the streets of Haiti’s earthquake-devastated capital, Port-au-Prince. The streets are still full of rubble. Women try to clean up so, sometimes needing to hold cloths to their faces to mask the smell of decomposing bodies.
The ACT Alliance has set up tented camps in a soccer stadium in the Santa Teresa area of Petionville, offering shelter for the homeless population. There, ACT photographer Paul Jeffrey found Haitians in full swing, building makeshift homes, doing so with humour and surrounded by the comings and goings of family life. They have given the narrow passages between their shelters names on pieces of cardboard nailed to temporary homes. In these communities, they try to carry out their daily chores.
Water is a scarce commodity in Port-au-Prince. ACT has delivered a 10,000 litre water bladder to a makeshift tent city at a partially-destroyed school in the Pean district of Port-au-Prince. A portable water system for the homeless families has also been set up and operates alongside an existing rainwater harvesting system. Although the school was partially destroyed, the system was able to be repaired by ACT personnel.
Haiti: Cancel the debt
CWS is supporting the growing international demand to cancel Haiti’s USD $890 million debt to multilateral debts and countries. Over half of the money is owed to the International Monetary Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank. Despite having USD $1.2 billion written off last June, the country is scheduled to pay USD$10 million this year to the International Monetary Fund. However the IMF is considering changing the debts into grants. The World Bank has already announced $100 million in grants to Haiti and will waive payments for five years on the $38million owed to it and is “working to find a way forward to cancel the remaining debt.”
Climate Change results disappoint
Global efforts by churches, international organisation, community groups and concerned citizens failed in their efforts to pressure global leaders to make a fair deal at Copenhagen’s climate change talks in Copenhagen. While an agreement was reached, the Copenhagen Accord was widely reported as a ‘Cop -Out’ (referring to the name of the talks COP 15) as it is non-binding and not ambitious enough to make a significant difference in global temperatures. Even the announcement of USD $100 million a year for adaptation is not committed new money. Political leaders did not agree to the 2 degree level identified by scientists as necessary.
At the summit Archbishop Desmond Tutu handed over half a million signatures to the secretary of the meeting urging them to commit to cutting emissions by 40% from the 1990 level by 2050 and limit the rise in global temperature to two degrees. New Zealand churches joined bell-ringing efforts in support of more substantive commitments from the meeting which was negotiated in secret by the world’s most powerful nations. CWS will continue its education and advocacy efforts in the coming year.
Sudan: Rescuing the Peace
The next 12 months will be critical for the future of Sudan as the country faces elections and a referendum by 9 January 2011 on self-determination in the South. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) brought an end to the two-decades-long war between North and South Sudan has not been fully implemented. There are widespread fears that the country will slip back into war as violence increases. More than 2,500 people were killed and 350,00 fled their homes during 2009, a higher toll than reported in Darfur. Much of the violence is taking place in remote rural areas, where the communities are poorest and the victims are mostly women and children. The competition over natural resources and the failure to implement the CPA are the main causes, but it is the proliferation of small arms that is fuelling the violence between south Sudan’s many tribes.
The Government of Southern Sudan has disarmed some civilians and built a new police force but this along with the UN peacekeeping mission (UNMIS) has not been sufficient to maintain security. The year’s erratic rainfall has disrupted cultivation, destroying livelihoods and contributed to the deteriorating humanitarian situation. Agencies including ACT members working in the region prepared a briefing paper, ”Rescuing the Peace in Southern Sudan”, urging greater global attention to security and development concerns, increased development opportunities for Sudanese and more effort from all parties.
Palestine: Dr Bernard Sabella reports on Christmas 2009
“…Politics is like a stage and most people just sit back and watch the show. The most important factor for the overwhelming majority is whether the political situation would allow them and their children to lead a normal life. Certainly, there are issues that need to be resolved but until this happens, most people prefer not to waste their energy on the rarely rewarding peace process. Palestinians have grown to be pragmatic. No, they do not acquiesce to Israeli military occupation but at the same time the overwhelming majority among them does not opt for violent resistance. The injustice that they see happening on the ground with home evictions and other transgressions in East Jerusalem, the separation wall, control mechanisms, checkpoints, settler provocations and land grabbing make them want to see violent resistance and wish that all settlers would disappear from their land once and for all. But all of us know that the settlers and the settlements will not disappear without a genuine and lasting peace agreement.
On the economic side, things in Bethlehem appear to be good with the arrival of thousands of pilgrims and tourists. One souvenir shop owner on Manger Square told me on Christmas day that business is good. He praised Russian pilgrims’ purchasing power and contrasted it to the weak American one. No, he was not making a political statement but who knows? The more tourists and pilgrims arrive in Bethlehem and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories the better for all. The economic cycle that their presence generates touches all sectors. Most often, however, tourists and pilgrims visiting Bethlehem end up staying only for a couple of hours which limits the potentially positive economic impact of their visit. Many shop owners and hoteliers in Bethlehem wish that the tourists and pilgrims would stay overnight and thus liven up the town especially around Christmas time.
The conflict in the Holy Land is not a simple one between Palestinians and Israelis. In a world where many of the young people in the Arab and Muslim countries are jobless and with no real prospects for work, study and future betterment, the Palestinian issue remains close to heart and is a strong motivation to act. The frustration that is generated by the absence of a just and lasting peace will for years act as an impetus to carry on arms and to attack the forces that are seen responsible for this grave injustice. The failure of the Western powers, and in particular the successive American Administrations, in helping resolve this conflict once and for all make them appear as responsible for the injustice as much as the Israelis. In fact, some would argue that the Western powers were responsible for creating the problem in the first place.
… The future of this Land cannot be one based on occupation, power and control. Without a just and lasting peace, there are no prospects for Palestinians and Israelis to come to see each other as equal. The longer it takes to arrive at such a peace, the more complications there will be not simply in Palestine and Israel but in the region and elsewhere as well. So, let us hope that 2010 would witness a serious start towards working out a genuine and lasting peace in spite of the doubts that many of us have.”
State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
The UN in its in its first State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples’ report expressed concern for the world’s 370 million indigenous peoples, 5 per cent of the global population. The report released on 14 January 2010 stated that they make up around one third of the world’s 900 million extremely poor rural people and suffer disproportionately higher rates of poverty, health problems, crime and human rights abuses. More than 50 per cent of indigenous adults suffer from Type 2 diabetes and suicide rates are considerably higher especially among youth.
The great majority of the world’s 6 – 7,000 languages are spoken by indigenous peoples and many, if not most, are in danger of becoming extinct in the next 100 years. About 97 per cent of the world’s population currently speaks 4 per cent of its languages while only 3 per cent speaks 96 per cent of them.
They face racism and discrimination and while often considered inferior, are increasingly recognised for their unique relationship with their environment, traditional knowledge and spirituality. Indigenous people are also stewards of some of the most biologically diverse areas, maintaining an immense traditional knowledge about their ecosystems. However there are many external efforts to profit from their culture outside of their control, providing them no benefits and often causing a great deal of harm. The report is available at: http://www.unpo.org/content/view/10586/83/
ECREA achievements in Fiji
CWS partner, the Ecumenical Centre for Research, Education and Advocacy (ECREA) achieved a number of advocacy successes in 2009. Despite the efforts of influential business men who deferred the decision, the Prime Minister issued new wage regulations on July 1 increasing the pay for many workers. ECREA’s research and advocacy contributed to the case. In response to an ECREA proposal the government has given ECREA a community lease for land to accommodate 100 houses for people currently in squatter settlements. People provide sweat equity and contribute half the cost over 12 years. ECREA collected 27,000 signatures on a petition against increased bus fares for children in the Suva area. They met with the prime minister and showed how the increases had caused a significant drop in school attendance. The government agreed to pay the fares to the end of the year and look at the situation in the future.
Lent Study Resources
From Cries of Anguish to Stories of Hope is a weekly resource looking at the way women around the world are struggling against violence. The first study, including background information, biblical reflection and prayers features CWS South Indian partner and is available from the overcoming violence website.
Fast for Life! Ash Wednesday observance
Advocacy Alliance of which CWS is a member is inviting people to fast
on Ash Wednesday. The 17 February “Fast for Life” is a time to reflect
on our own consumption and commit to doing what we can to contribute to
global food security. It may be either an individual or group action.
than one billion people are suffering from hunger around the world.
Despite the goodness and bounty of God’s gifts to us in creation, so
many people experience scarcity: famine, hunger, deprivation and want.
At the same time, there are people in all parts of the world who suffer
the effects of “too much”: too much salt, sugar, fat, calories. These
are all dimensions of the unsustainable consumption of food. Our
individual decisions, as well as collective ones, have increased the
divide between the haves and the have nots. As a global society, our
sense of balance and right relations is further strained.
Please join us:
i) Fast from food as a symbolic gesture in solidarity with people living with hunger.
ii) Fast from fossil fuels – park your car and walk, ride a bike, or take public transport to help reduce greenhouse gases.
iii) Fast from over-consumption by leaving your wallet at home and commit to ‘buy nothing’ on 17 February.
Organize a worship service on Ash Wednesday to reflect on the
inequalities that allow for hunger and over-consumption in this world.
v) Share your resources on food consumption, reflections and prayers on Facebook on the Food for Life Campaign page:
Resources for worship, study and action are available from the EAA
Click here for PCUSA Guidelines on fasting