AJWS Responds to Crisis Situations with Rapid Relief


AJWS Responds to Crisis Situations with Rapid Relief

October 4, 2007

While events in some parts of the world make regular headlines, others go ignored and underreported. The current situations in Somalia, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka are three examples of overlooked crises where AJWS is working, using “rapid relief” funds to help communities find hope in difficult times.

In Somalia, violent clashes between a weak government, the Ethiopian military, Islamist militias and war profiteers have driven more than 300,000 civilians to flee the capital. Many people are now living in areas that, stricken by drought and flooding in recent months, have few resources to host them.

In Zimbabwe, the continued deterioration of the socio-political situation has been causing great misery and hunger among the country’s poor. This situation is exacerbated by prolonged drought which is undermining the ability of subsistence farmers to feed themselves and their families.

In Sri Lanka, civil war is once again threatening a country struggling to rebuild following the 2004 tsunami. Over the last year Sri Lanka has experienced a resurgence of violence between government and rebels, complicating and endangering tsunami reconstruction and relief efforts.

Community-based organizations in these three countries, as well as others around the world, are receiving support in the form of rapid relief funding from AJWS. These grants, while small compared with the great need, enable our partners to provide some immediate needs to their communities in the form of food, shelter or transportation. The resources simultaneously enable organizations to work toward long-term solutions to entrenched challenges.

In Zimbabwe, rapid relief grants to non-governmental organizations are supporting trainings for community leaders in non-violent advocacy methods, promoting productive dialogue processes around social change. Rapid relief funds will also be distributed to supply two months of emergency food relief for HIV-affected families trying to create small businesses they can use for long-term self-sufficiency.

In Somalia, hundreds of families displaced by the fighting in Mogadishu are receiving rapid relief food and shelter support from local organizations with the help of AJWS. Over the long term, these people can be integrated into ongoing economic development and education programs.

In Sri Lanka, AJWS has provided relief grants and is in the process of developing a larger strategy to more holistically address the needs of the conflict-affected community. In July and August, AJWS staff will visit the region to assess these needs as well as the local capacity to provide humanitarian aid and longer-term conflict response services. AJWS will continue to draw from rapid relief funds as needed to respond to the threat of renewed conflict.

Though we may not read about these situations on the front pages of our newspapers, the human suffering is real. Rapid relief funds give AJWS the flexibility to respond to the immediate needs of affected communities and to support their long-term hopes for peace, self-sufficiency and security.