Christmas Bowl delivers aid as crises loom

11/11/2010

Christmas Bowl News Story
Children living in a refugee camp on the Thailand-Burma border.
Photo: Janet Cousens/Act for Peace.

Australian Christians who support Act for Peace’s Christmas Bowl program in 2010 will offer a lifeline to thousands of refugees who are suffering through the unfolding crises in Burma and Sudan.

Burma’s military dictatorship has announced victory in the country's first elections in 20 years, but reports on the ground indicate the process was dominated, restricted and manipulated by the military junta. The elections have rendered Burma more volatile than ever, with eruptions of violence causing citizens to seek refuge.

Camps vital safe havens for those who have lost everything

Christmas Bowl News Story
Photo: Janet Cousens/Act for Peace.
This Christmas, churchgoers will be able to share the gifts of food, shelter, medicine and education with refugees that have sought security from violence and persecution in the sprawling camps that line the Thailand-Burma border.

Act for Peace Executive Director Alistair Gee said the situation in Burma is extremely unpredictable.

“In the past days, we have seen around 20,000 people flee violence between ethnic rebels and Burmese government forces. The fighting has now ceased and the people are returning to Burma, but this underscores the continued building of tension in Burma,” Mr Gee said.

“The Christmas Bowl has played an important role in establishing security for Burmese refugees living on the Thai-Burma border for the past 25 years. It is vital that these camps continue to be a safe haven for people who have lost everything due to ongoing violence. The camps already house 140,000 people; we are monitoring the post-election situation in Burma and preparing for the possibility of an influx of refugees.

“We are encouraging churches and people of faith around Australia to give generously to the Christmas Bowl to support the people of Burma during this pivotal time and to support civilians caught in other crises unraveling around the world.”

With the help of Australian churches, Act for Peace hopes to raise more than $2.7 million for the Christmas Bowl program this year. Reaching this target is vital to effectively assist the people of Burma and Sudan.

Mr Gee said assistance will be needed in Sudan as the 2011 Referendum approaches on 7 January, at which time the North and South will vote for cessation.

“We are already seeing population movements in Sudan as southerners residing in the North ask our partners to organise safe passage back to their villages in southern Sudan,” Mr Gee said.

“Threats and intimidation are already taking place and there is a climate of fear. We must be prepared logistically and financially to deal with the humanitarian consequences of large scale migration and violence.”

A gift to the Christmas Bowl can help support people who are caught amidst these crises.

  • $30 can provide life-saving medicine for two children in Gaza
  • $150 can train a community leader in conflict resolution in Sudan
  • $500 can provide a family of Burmese refugees with nutritious food for six months
To make a tax deductible gift or to order the Christmas Bowl resources, please free call 1800 025 101 or visit www.actforpeace.org.au

The Christmas Bowl is a program of Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches n Australia. We empower war-torn communities to reduce poverty, protect refugees, and prevent further conflict. Our roject partners are currently assisting more than one million people in the world's worst conflict areas, including Sudan, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, the Middle East, Burma and Sri Lanka.


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