In Australia, Christian agencies laud government aid match

By on October 5, 2011

Families wait to be registered at the Ifo extension refugee camp, Dadaab, Kenya, which is supported by the church-backed global agency, ACT Alliance. Photo: ACT/Barb Summers

Wellington, New Zealand-Christian aid agencies in Australia welcomed a federal government pledge to match until Nov. 30 every dollar donated to groups working to relieve drought and famine in the Horn of Africa. Half of the sixteen agencies eligible are from Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran and Uniting churches, plus Christian aid agencies TEAR Australia and World Vision.

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd announced the plan outside Tecoma Uniting Church in Melbourne on Oct. 5 and said no limits would be set. Speaking of the Church, Rudd said, "I’m proud of the Uniting Church and what it does locally, nationally, and with partners overseas."

World Vision Australia chief executive the Rev. Tim Costello asked Rudd three weeks ago to set up the dollar-for-dollar partnership between the government and aid organizations seeking to alleviate the effects of the worst drought in 60 years in parts of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.

Costello, a former National President of the Baptist Union, said more malnourished children will get life-saving nutritional supplements as the government initiative will double the impact of donations. "More lives will be saved in East Africa thanks to the government’s new program. At a time when some 13 million people in the region are facing severe food shortages, drought and conflict, support is needed more than ever."

Misha Coleman, head of Anglican Church aid arm Anglicord, said the initiative is not about "band-aid solutions," but early recovery for immediate assistance "to make sure that we are right there with our friends in Africa, helping them to rebuild so that when the next natural disaster or global financial downturn comes, they’ll be in a better position to weather it."

Australia has donated $128 million (US$123.2 million) so far to the crisis, according to the Australian government.

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