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CWS responds to refugee crisis in Middle East

19 February 2015

In response to Radio New Zealand reports today, CWS released the attached media release.  

18 February 2015

Double the Aid Effort in Syria and Iraq


Christian World Service supports calls for more aid to groups providing relief on the ground in Syria and Iraq as unmet needs spiral. 

“What is important is to get help to those who need it.  In dangerous situations, local contacts and expertise are the best ways to make sure displaced people and refugees get food, water, shelter and medical help,” says Pauline McKay, National Director of Christian World Service.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully reported the New Zealand government had committed NZ$14.5million.  According to Pauline McKay this equates to 83.3 cents per person based on United Nations figures.

“New Zealand can do more.  We are on the UN Security Council and must show our genuine commitment to the security of vulnerable populations by increasing funding for relief,” she says.

 Local groups including churches are playing a crucial role in feeding and accommodating families, keeping people warm through a gruelling winter and providing some protection.  Being local these groups cannot leave but neither are they as large a target for armed groups as foreign workers.

“Our partners have been operating in both countries for decades.  They have a strong track record with local authorities and know how to get things done.  There is no need to risk New Zealanders’ lives on the ground.  What is needed is more funding to help local churches and other non-governmental agencies get on with the immense job of providing the basic necessities to people who have fled homes with only the clothes they are wearing,” says Pauline McKay.


The latest UN report on the humanitarian response in Syria says that over the last three years humanitarian needs have risen more than six times the rate of funding.  Three years ago there was an estimated 1 million in need and now the figure is 12.2 million, an increase of 1120%.  During the same period funding increased from US$639 million to US$1.8 billion, an increase of 182%.  In Iraq the UN reports 5.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, a situation that has developed since June last year.  The UN appeal is for US$2.2 billion but they have so far received only 36% of that figure.

CWS is funding relief work in Iraq and Syria as well as for healthcare and life skills training for Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.  In the current year, CWS has sent over $250,000.

Pauline McKay signed the Open Letter on Military Deployment to Iraq.


Donations to the Syria Appeal or Iraq Crisis Appeal can be made:

  • On line and by direct deposit at http://cws.org.nz/donate
  • By Phone with a credit card: 0800 74 73 72
  • By Post to: CWS, PO Box 22652, Christchurch 8140

Christian World Service has been doing a world of good since 1945.  It works with local groups in 20 countries who are making change happen so people can live a life free from poverty.  CWS is a member of the ACT Alliance (Action by Churches Together), a global coalition of more than 140 churches and church related organisations that work together in the areas of humanitarian assistance, advocacy and community development in 140 countries. 

                For further information contact: Pauline McKay: Phone: 03 366 9274 / 0212891225