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Habitat for Humanity and World Concern Statement On Stories In Two Thai Newspapers * * * Habitat for Humanity And World Concern Re-state Support For Internationally-Recognized Standards Of Non-Discrimination When Aiding Victims of Tsunami

October 13, 2005

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BANGKOK, 13th October 2005: Habitat for Humanity International/Habitat for Humanity Thailand and World Concern make the following statement concerning articles that appeared in “Kom Chat Leuk” and “The Nation” newspapers on 10th and 11th October 2005 regarding allegations of inequality in the distribution of aid to survivors of the December 2004 tsunami.

These articles suggest that all the identified Christian Relief and Development organizations providing tsunami recovery assistance are prioritizing aid for Christians and survivors who join Christian churches.

Habitat for Humanity’s vice president for Asia-Pacific Steve Weir and World Concern’s Asia area director Joe Harbison make the following statement

Habitat for Humanity and World Concern are committed to adherence to the Red Cross Code of Conduct for disaster response programmes, which requires aid to be given “regardless of the race, creed or nationality of the recipients and without adverse distinction of any kind” (www.ifrc.org/publicat/conduct/code.asp ). This code also states that “aid must not tie the promise, delivery or distribution of assistance to the embracing or acceptance of a particular political or religious creed”. Habitat for Humanity and World Concern ensure that these principles are upheld in all their disaster response programs throughout the world, and all necessary steps have been taken to apply these principles in our tsunami recovery programs. (Principles of non-discrimination on the base of race, color, ethnicity or faith apply to all our regular work all over the world.) Stringent safeguards are in place to prevent abuses of these principles and we are confident that both organizations have provided aid equally and without conditions to all tsunami survivors, regardless of their religious beliefs. Habitat for Humanity and World Concern seek to be transparent in all facets of their work and would invite official scrutiny of their beneficiary selection process to confirm that these principles are being outworked in practice.

Contrary to the perception given by the inserted map in the articles in question, Habitat for Humanity and World Concern are Christian Relief and Development Organizations that are neither churches nor involved in the establishment of churches. The reason for the high number of Christian agencies concentrated in the area of Bang Niang is due to the fact that this is the epicenter of the tsunami impact. Following the example of the Royal Family, Habitat International and World Concern chose to locate their centre of tsunami recovery operations where the need was the greatest.

A significant proportion of Habitat for Humanity and World Concern field staff are non-Christian, many of whom are in charge of the beneficiary selection process.

By the time of the Tsunami one year anniversary, World Concern and Habitat for Humanity will have built or restored approximately 332 houses and provided livelihood training for approximately 272 families in the Bang Niang and Tachatchai areas. The vast majority of these beneficiaries will be either Buddhist, Mogen or Muslim.

Habitat for Humanity’s tsunami response program involves directly and indirectly assisting 35,000 tsunami-affected families in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand to rebuild their lives.

World Concern is providing direct shelter, livelihood and psycho-social assistance to 2,129 tsunami-affected families in Thailand and Sri Lanka.

Habitat for Humanity and World Concern believe in transparency and accountability. Both organizations regret that no reporter from either newspaper contacted their organizations to discuss their work in assisting families affected by the Tsunami. Both organizations welcome visits by journalists at mutually agreeable times.

More information about both organizations’ work can be found on www.habitat.org/ap/ and www.worldconcern.org

Issued by:

For further media enquires, please contact

Habitat for Humanity, Peter Witton, Asia-Pacific Communications Director
on + 66 (0) 6 105 1767 or pwitton@habitat.org

World Concern: Joe Harbison, Asia Area Director
on + 66 (0) 12 578 767 or jharbison@wcasia.org