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Christian aid agencies say "no" to Hercules use


Press Release
Attention:

Christian aid agencies say "no" to Hercules for humanitarian aid

International Christian aid agencies, Christian World Service (CWS) and TEAR Fund are deeply concerned about the government's plans to offer the use of New Zealand troops and Hercules planes to deliver humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

"This simply constitutes a total confusion of humanitarian and military actions and compromises principles of neutrality and impartiality with which humanitarian assistance is best delivered says Jill Hawkey, Director of Christian World Service. "Changing the colour of a Hercules from camouflage to white doesn't change the fact that it’s the same plane. One week it's part of an Allied force which drops bombs and the following week it drops bread. It's a contradiction and it's immoral " says Ms Hawkey.

Christian World Service and TEAR Fund believe that there is a clear distinction between the government offering SAS troops for a war in Afghanistan and the peacekeeping role of troops in East Timor or relief efforts under UN auspices in Somalia or Rwanda.

" This situation is entirely different. The troops in East Timor or elsewhere are there to restore and maintain peace, not to pursue war. But in the present circumstances, the New Zealand government by committing SAS troops has become involved in the war in Afghanistan and should not try to balance the choice for war with an incompatible choice to use the same armed forces as humanitarian relief workers."

"If New Zealanders were being bombed and killed by another country’s planes and troops one week and the same army started distributing food to the people of Auckland, Christchurch or Wellington the following week, would we trust them - even if they changed the colour of their berets or tanks? " says Ms Hawkey.

Christian World Service, working through its partners ACT International (Action by Churches Together), has responded to the humanitarian crisis by providing essential emergency supplies including food, medicines, shelter, blankets and clean water to over 650,000 refugees in surrounding countries and to people in Afghanistan itself through a number of local partner NGO's.

TEAR Fund New Zealand, working through international partners SERVE and World Relief are providing specialist services to UNHCR and other agencies in the refugee camps in Pakistan and Iran.

Christian World Service and TEAR Fund strongly urge the Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Matt Robson, to provide additional funding for NGO's to deliver humanitarian assistance to the 7 million people inside Afghanistan who are identified as critically in need of food.

" It's great that the New Zealand government wants to respond to the needs of the Afghan people. However, this support should be given through independent humanitarian organisations and not the military" says Ms. Hawkey.

ENDS

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