19 December 2008

MRDF appeals for support for crisis-hit countries

This Christmas, the Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) is calling on people to remember those affected by humanitarian crises in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zimbabwe. MRDF is supporting appeals through ACT (Action by Churches Together) International that will provide emergency supplies to some of the thousands of people who have been affected.

In the DRC, an estimated 250,000 people fled their homes when fighting broke out between Government forces and rebel fighters in October. At the time, reports from the country included stories of killing, rape, looting and children being forced to fight - UNICEF calls eastern Congo 'the worst place in the world to be a child'.

ACT staff were able to deliver some initial assistance to crisis-hit areas. They are now assessing the current needs and are planning to provide food to severely malnourished children, safe water and psycho-social support to people affected by the conflict. Many families had to leave their land before their crops were harvested. Under these proposals, displaced families would also be given tools and seeds to ensure that there is food in their communities next year.

In Zimbabwe, a cholera epidemic has worsened the crisis in a country already suffering from desperate food shortages, a growing HIV/AIDS problem and economic instability. MRDF would like to thank everyone who has donated so far to the appeal launched in April. Over £30,000 has been raised and has been used to provide food supplies, supplementary vitamins for those living with HIV/AIDS, counselling for AIDS orphans and small livestock for food and breeding. However, the needs are huge, and growing. Further donations to this appeal will continue to provide this vital support to some of Zimbabwe's most vulnerable households.

MRDF Director Kirsty Smith said: 'For most of us in the UK, Christmas will be a time of sharing with friends and family. But many people living in Zimbabwe and the DRC face an uncertain future of insecurity, chronic hunger and sickness. These appeals give us the opportunity to assist thousands of people living in desperate and unstable situations.'

Donations for Zimbabwe and the DRC can be made by debit or credit card on 020 7224 4814, or by cheque, payable to "MRDF (Zimbabwe emergency)" or "MRDF (DRC emergency)", posted to MRDF, Methodist Church House, 25 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5JR.

Taxpayers are encouraged to gift-aid their donations where possible, adding a value of 28p to every pound they give, at no extra personal cost.

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