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CHURCH WORLD SERVICE, FOUR OTHER FAITH-BASED GROUPS
ISSUE PRINCIPLES ESSENTIAL FOR EFFECTIVE AID TO AFGHANS

November 1, 2001, NEW YORK CITY – Church World Service and four other humanitarian response agencies today released principles that they assert "must guide humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan."

According to the "Three Guiding Principles for Humanitarian Aid in the Afghanistan Crisis," "humanitarian aid must be provided on the basis of need, not as an instrument of political or military strategy," "multilateral cooperation is critical for effective aid in Afghanistan" and "military intervention must not exacerbate humanitarian crises."

"Adherence to these principles will save lives and relieve suffering among a people at risk from drought, chaos, wars and the approaching winter," according to the principles, which were signed by CWS, which is the National Council of Churches’ global witness and service ministry; American Friends Service Committee, Lutheran World Relief, Mennonite Central Committee and Presbyterian Church U.S,A,-Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.

The full text of the principles follows:

"THREE GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR HUMANITARIAN AID
IN THE AFGHANISTAN CRISIS"

The principles that follow must guide humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. Adherence to these principles will save lives and relieve suffering among a people at risk from drought, chaos, wars and the approaching winter.

As faith-based humanitarian organizations in the U.S. responding to the crisis in Afghanistan, we urgently call upon non-governmental and governmental agencies to uphold the three principles below in all humanitarian actions. We also affirm the "Code of Conduct for The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Response Programmes" (www.sphereproject.org/handbook/annexes.htm#5) and strongly recommend compliance in this extraordinary crisis. In addition to the Code, the principles draw on lengthy experience in humanitarian service, reflect precepts of U.S. and international law, and address the special challenge that this crisis poses to Christians, Muslims and other people of faith.

All faith-based organizations have a special calling in this crisis. Extremist religion has fanned the flames of conflict. Now faith-based cooperation is necessary to help repair the damage done and inspire remedies still to come.

1. HUMANITARIAN AID MUST BE PROVIDED ON THE BASIS OF NEED, NOT AS AN INSTRUMENT OF POLITICAL OR MILITARY STRATEGY

We reaffirm the "Code of Conduct" requirement that aid is to be provided wherever it is needed, not as a partisan or political act and not as an instrument of military strategy. In accordance with this principle and the moral teachings of our faith, we commit ourselves and call others to ensure the separation of humanitarian assistance from military action during conflicts, now as in the past. The purpose of aid is to assist people in need, in this case, the vulnerable sectors of the Afghan population.

2. MULTILATERAL COOPERATION IS CRITICAL FOR EFFECTIVE AID IN AFGHANISTAN

We affirm the principle of multilateral cooperation in this crisis, particularly through the United Nations and its humanitarian agencies. For the U.S. and Europe to provide assistance to populations within the Muslim world, multilateral action is as critical in the humanitarian field as it is in the political arena. The U.S. must be careful not to act alone in ways that sharpen the geopolitical, cultural and religious polarizations complicating this crisis. Cooperation between governments and other international agencies rebuilds the unity essential for the well-being of all peoples now threatened.

In this context we also endorse the U.S. Government's increased commitment to providing humanitarian assistance to the citizens displaced within Afghanistan and in refugee camps across its borders. Multilateral assistance is essential to the success of that U.S. aid.

3. MILITARY INTERVENTION MUST NOT EXACERBATE HUMANITARIAN CRISES

Afghanistan's humanitarian crisis will not wait for other goals to be met. On September 11, up to five million people, one fifth of the Afghan population, were suffering through a major food crisis. Their numbers have only grown since that date, yet the pursuit of suspected terrorists has taken precedence over their fate. Military responses that undermine effective humanitarian aid endanger innocent people and deepen this humanitarian crisis, and by so doing, also undermine the prospects for future cooperation against terrorist acts.

Given the urgent needs and approach of winter, we call for all parties to this conflict to establish conditions that permit the immediate, safe delivery of humanitarian aid in the quantities needed. Such conditions may include ceasefires, safe zones for relief work, humanitarian aid corridors and similar measures, to be accompanied by multinational monitoring of compliance.

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