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Churches respond to Middle East Crisis

20 July 2006

Churches respond to Middle East Crisis

Christian World Service (CWS), the development, justice and aid agency of New Zealand churches has launched an emergency appeal for relief efforts in Israel, Palestine and Lebanon and is calling for an end to the escalating violence in the region. Member churches, including Methodist, Anglican, and Presbyterian, are supporting the appeal. Donations can be made to 0800 74 73 72 or www.cws.org.nz

The Lebanese Prime Minister has declared his country a disaster zone. Israeli attacks against Hezbollah positions in Lebanon have destroyed homes, roads, infrastructure and community services. Civilian casualties have reached close to 300 dead and 450 wounded, with the numbers growing. Over 600,000 people have fled their homes, taking refuge in school buildings. Thousands more will be displaced if attacks continue.

The Gaza Strip, home to 1.4 million people, has been stricken with fuel and water shortages after three weeks of Israeli incursions and has also been bombed, destroying homes and services. Retaliatory missile attacks are bringing further destruction and civilian deaths in Israel.

The Middle East Council of Churches, whose work with Palestinian refugees CWS has supported for over 20 years, is providing emergency relief for people affected by the escalating conflict. Donations will help provide: food rations, milk for infants, mattresses and bedding, water, first aid kits and medicines, sanitation supplies, and kitchen supplies.

Christian World Service joins international efforts calling for:
a.. an immediate end to the use of violence by all sides and to work towards developing non-violent strategies for dealing with events.

b.. the protection of human lives - Lebanese, Israeli and Palestinian - in accordance with international law.

c.. humanitarian assistance to all those in need, including people living in the Gaza Strip

d.. all governments (including New Zealand) to demand an immediate ceasefire, to condemn the use of violence by all sides and put the utmost pressure on all parties to begin serious negotiations that address the root causes of the conflicts that dominate the region.

ENDS

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