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 humanitariancrises in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zimbabwe. MRDFis supporting appeals through ACT (Action by Churches Together)International that will provide emergency supplies to some of thethousands of people who have been affected.

In the DRC, an estimated 250,000 people fled their homes whenfighting broke out between Government forces and rebel fighters inOctober. At the time, reports from the country included stories ofkilling, rape, looting and children being forced to fight - UNICEFcalls eastern Congo 'the worst place in the world to be achild'.

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

In Zimbabwe, a cholera epidemic has worsened the crisis in acountry already suffering from desperate food shortages, a growingHIV/AIDS problem and economic instability. MRDF would like to thankeveryone who has donated so far to the appeal launched in April.Over £30,000 has been raised and has been used to provide foodsupplies, supplementary vitamins for those living with HIV/AIDS,counselling for AIDS orphans and small livestock for food andbreeding. However, the needs are huge, and growing. Furtherdonations to this appeal will continue to provide this vitalsupport 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. Butmany people living in Zimbabwe and the DRC face an uncertain futureof insecurity, chronic hunger and sickness. These appeals give usthe opportunity to assist thousands of people living in desperateand unstable situations.'

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

Taxpayers are encouraged to gift-aid their donations wherepossible, adding a value of 28p to every pound they give, at noextra personal cost.