Friday, August 06, 2010

Pakistan: As flood crisis worsens, church leaders warn of danger of Christians missing out on aid

'A senior church leader in Pakistan has warned that "hardly anything" from international aid packages will reach marginalised Christians affected by the worst floods to hit the country in 80 years.
The statement to Barnabas Fund from the Bishop of Peshawar comes as the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), which comprises 13 aid agencies, launched a radio and TV appeal for the escalating crisis in Pakistan yesterday (5 August).

Barnabas Fund was quick to respond to the humanitarian disaster, immediately sending an initial grant of £10,000 on Monday to begin helping the thousands of Christians affected by flooding in the worst-hit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and Punjab Province.

Around 1,600 people have died with four million affected by the devastation after torrential monsoon rain started to fall last week. "We are indebted to Barnabas Fund who are always the first ones to extend practical support."

Continuing heavy downpours this week triggered further flood warnings in the north-west and around 15,000 houses were destroyed further south as the river waters surged into Punjab Province. People are now being evacuated from Sindh Province as the water reaches threatening levels.
Bishop Humphrey Peters of the Church of Pakistan's Diocese of Peshawar (in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province) thanked Barnabas Fund for its support and said the minority Christian population would otherwise receive "hardly anything" from international aid packages.

He said: "We are indebted to Barnabas Fund who are always the first ones to extend practical support.
"I am personally visiting the affected areas. Our Christians, who are already deprived and marginalized, are in pathetic conditions. They have lost almost everything in their houses; they could only save their lives.

"Soon after the emergency phase that might last for a couple of months, the most important will be the rehabilitation. We are sure that some countries will come forward with aid packages, but hardly anything will reach the minority Christians. Do keep us in your special prayers."

Yunis Lal Din, leader of the Fellowship of Brethren Churches in Pakistan, told Barnabas Fund yesterday:

"The situation is desperate with many families having lost their homes and possessions. Many Christians were already in poor circumstances and are now doubly affected and do not know where to find help. Barnabas Fund is the first and only organisation so far that has sent funds and provided help for their needs. . .

"It is great to know that brothers and sisters care so much in this time of national crisis. Thank you."

Discrimination

Christians comprise around 2.5-3 per cent (4-5 million people) of the population in Pakistan. They face widespread discrimination, are despised by their Muslim neighbours, and the majority of Christians live in extreme poverty. Islamisation is gathering strength in Pakistan and sharia law has been partially implemented. Last year saw an unprecedented number of violent incidents against Christian communities. In such a context, Christians are likely to be neglected when general aid is distributed.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, said: "We greatly welcome the appeal by the DEC to help those affected by the devastating flooding in Pakistan but we would urge Christians to particularly bear in mind their marginalised brothers and sisters when considering their own giving. Barnabas Fund channels money exclusively from Christians through Christians to Christians who desperately need our help.

"They urgently need our assistance now and, looking to the future, will require long-term help to rebuild their homes and shattered lives."

Click here to download a QuickTime slide-show displaying the devastation of the Pakistani floods 46Mb (right click and "Save Target As")

For regular updates, images and media on the unfolding situation visit http://barnabasfund.org

Please pray:

That aid agencies will quickly direct help to those in greatest need.


That there will be no further heavy rain and the floodwaters will start to recede.


For Christians affected by the crisis, that they will receive practical help and be comforted by the Lord in their distress, and be able to give comfort to others (2 Corinthians 1: 3-4).

Give today:

Donations may be made to the 00-634 Disaster Relief Fund.

If you prefer to telephone, dial: 0800 587 4006 from within the UK or +44 1672 565031 from outside the UK. Please quote project reference 00-634 (Disaster relief Fund).

If you prefer to send a cheque by post: Click this link for the address of our regional office. Please quote project reference 00-634 (Disaster relief Fund).

For a quick donation of £3.00 by SMS (see terms and conditions here) text Barnabas/634 to 70007

BARNABAS FUND EMAIL NEWS SERVICE

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