UK church agency pledges aid to Iraq- not evangelisation

 Following the news that some American Christian organisations intend to bring aid to Iraq tied with religious teaching - Christian Aid has issued the following statement: Christian Aid's mandate is to work to address poverty, injustice and the denial of rights, and to help those whose need is greatest, whatever their race or faith. We certainly do not exist to help only Christians or to promote conversions to Christianity. Although some of our work is implemented by Christian or church-based partner organisations that share our objectives, we do not support the churches in areas such as pastoral work, evangelism and the building of churches. Christian Aid has been concerned about reports that some US Christian agencies intend to use their humanitarian work in Iraq as an opportunity for proselytising. Although Christian Aid's work is inspired by the teachings of the Gospel, we are signatories to international codes of conduct which require us to ensure that the delivery of humanitarian aid is undertaken entirely separately from political, religious or military activities. These are core principles to which we are willing signatories. This important distinction is clearly set out in the Red Cross and Red Crescent Code of Conduct for disaster relief, to which Christian Aid - along with CAFOD, Oxfam, Save the Children and others - is a signatory. In some cases, if those delivering aid are perceived to be working towards a political or religious agenda, it can also place lives at risk. People receiving aid are very vulnerable. As an aid agency, Christian Aid's focus during emergencies is exclusively to address the humanitarian needs of the affected population. We consider people have a right to assistance based on need and they should receive help without feeling beholden in any way, to those providing the assistance. The blurring of roles between proselytising and humanitarian objectives undermines the core tenet of humanitarian action that aid must be provided based on need alone. We think it is important that this work is carried out in ways that are appropriate to local cultures, and that the best way to do this is to fund local organisations to carry out the work. Thus in Iraq we support the work of the Middle East Council of Churches as well as a range of Muslim and secular organisations. Our partner organisations are chosen for the quality of the work they do, not their religious affiliations. Note: The relevant sections of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Code of Conduct state: 1. The Humanitarian imperative comes first. 2. Aid is given regardless of the race, creed or nationality of the recipients and without adverse distinction of any kind. Aid priorities are calculated on the basis of need alone. 3. Aid will not be used to further a particular political or religious standpoint. 4. We shall endeavour not to act as instruments of government foreign policy. 5. We shall respect culture and custom.

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