CHURCH WORLD SERVICE RESPONDS TO EMERGENCIES
IN GUINEA, SUDAN, KANSAS, SOLOMON ISLANDS, CHECHNYA
Here are some "snapshots" of Church World Service response in emergencies in several corners of the world. CWS, the service and witness ministry of the National Council of Churches, works in more than 80 countries, including the United States. For more information, visit www.churchworldservice.org. Persons wishing to support these or other efforts may phone 800-297-1516 or write CWS at 28606 Phillips St., Elkhart, IN 46514.
Assisting Refugees, Internally Displaced People in Guinea
Three conflicts in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea literally have trapped more than half a million people in Guinea between heavy military exchanges between opposing forces. The United Nations estimates 500,000 refugees from ongoing warfare in Sierra Leone and Liberia along with tens of thousands of Guineans are affected.
Intensifying their plight are incursions along Guineas borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia, and an existing full-scale military operation by Guineas government against anti-government forces that has been gaining momentum since January.
Church World Service is responding with a $150,000 program to increase the capacity for relocation and access to camps for all displaced people. The program includes food and non-food items, shelter, improvements of water and sanitation facilities and trauma counseling.
Responding to Famine Conditions in Sudan
A succession of severe drought and flooding has created famine conditions that are deteriorating rapidly in southern Sudan. Only half the food needed is available. Civil war is intensifying the effects on already weakened infrastructures, making it all the more difficult for vulnerable populations to obtain access to relief aid and food resources.
More and more people are leaving home to search for food as the shortages worsen and the cost for food increases. The elderly and very young suffer the most.
In response, Church World Service is embarking on a $125,000 program of support for a $1.4 million global ecumenical effort to assist 26,500 households in the Eastern Equatorial and Bahr el Jebel regions of Sudan. The funds will provide shelter, food and non-food items, seeds and tools and nutrition/supplementary feeding and will help improve conditions for health clinics.
CWS joins the Action by Churches Together (ACT) International network, Norwegian Church Aid and Sudan Council of Churches in work to meet basic needs of the drought-affected and war-displaced populations.
Rebuilding Hoisington, Kan., Following April 21 Tornado
Church World Service is helping the interfaith community in Hoisington, Kan., organize to identify and meet unmet and long-term recovery needs following the April 21 tornado that destroyed nearly one quarter of this small community.
CWS Disaster Resource Consultants Cherri and Bob Baer are providing technical assistance to the ministerial association and other voluntary agencies in Hoisington, where the mood is "hopeful" despite lingering shock, Cherri Baer reports. "This is a very small community and the tornado was a mile wide, so there was very little of the town that was not affected," she says.
Latest figures indicate that 182 homes were destroyed, 52 sustained major damage and 180 are not now habitable but can be repaired. At least two pastors who are members of the ministerial association had their own homes destroyed. One expected problem in the community is that of homes not being sufficiently insured.
The Baers, along with Chris Iverson, Regional Disaster Coordinator for Lutheran Disaster Response and an applicant for CWSs volunteer Disaster Resource Consultant program, are on site. (Contact: Cherri Bauer, 316-485-4270; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Church World Service anticipates a $50,000 program to cover the costs of faith-based organizing efforts and to support expected requests for interfaith assistance and unmet needs.
Helping People in the Solomon Islands Return Home, Rebuild Following Civil War
Beginning in 1998, tensions in the Solomon Islands located northeast of Australia in the Pacific Ocean -- escalated into a civil war between Malaitian and Guadalcan ethnic groups. Now that the conflict has ended, about 50,000 displaced people are returning to their homes. But they are finding their homes and villages either plundered or damaged, or in many cases, completely burned to the ground. People are struggling to meet basic needs for survival such as food, water and shelter.
In response, the Solomon Islands Christian Association, a Church World Service partner, has initiated an emergency project including distribution of food and shelter, water/sanitation and agricultural inputs. The six-month project seeks to stabilize food and basic needs in areas with displaced populations. CWS is mobilizing $75,000 toward the $613,396 program. In addition, CWS is sending $30,000 in CWS Blanket Funds.
Meeting Emergency Needs Among Refugees from Chechnya
Church World Service is mobilizing $50,000 in funding for landmine awareness, food aid and development programs including establishment of a grain mill and bakery -- among the nearly 300,000 persons fleeing the war in Chechnya. Nearly 140,000 are internally displaced within Chechnya, and 150,000 have fled to neighboring Ingushetia.
Despite the presence of a number of international relief agencies in the region, aid is arriving at a slow and random pace due to slow fund-raising for the planned projects. High tension and the security situation in general is another obstacle to smooth and timely aid deliveries to the vulnerable.
A hospital in Grozny reports that more than 20 people are injured or die from mines every week. CWS is supporting a DanChurchAid/Danish Demining Group program of mine awareness in schools and refugee camps in Ingushetia, Georgia, North Oshetia, Dagastan and Chechnya.
CWS also is supporting Hungarian Interchurch Aid and the Russian Orthodox Church as they provide food baskets to 23,231 internally displaced persons in camps in northern Chechnya, North-Ossetia and Stavropol regions.
And it is helping Norwegian Church Aid/Center for Peacemaking and Development in its program to distribute food, sanitary items and clothing; install a grain mill and bakery for much needed fresh bread for displaced persons; provide psycho-social assistance to war-traumatized children; the construction and running of schools for refugee children; mine awareness activities, and peace-building initiatives.
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