From the Worldwide Faith News archives

PDA allocates second round of humanitarian aid for Afghan refugees

Date 5 Dec 2001 08:57:10 -0500

Note #6967 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

and displaced persons

PDA allocates second round of humanitarian aid for Afghan refugees and
displaced persons

Food packets will help feed more than 100,000 people

by Evan Silverstein

LOUISVILLE - Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) - having already poured
a half million dollars into humanitarian aid for Afghanistan - recently
contributed an additional $125,000 to help feed refugees and internally
displaced persons in the war-torn region.

Up to 7.5 million Afghans face hunger this winter, their plight worsened by
harsh weather conditions and continued U.S. military action.

PDA's contribution, taken in part from pledges made by Presbyterian donors
specifically for Afghan refugee relief, came in response to an ongoing $6.28
million appeal by Church World Service (CWS) for food and shelter assistance
to refugees inside Afghanistan and for those fleeing to neighboring

"The food packages will include a six-month supply of wheat, cooking oil,
rice, beans, sugar and tea for 15,000 families," said Pamela Burdine, PDA's
communications officer, in a situation report last month announcing the
move. She said the packages, which cost $256 each, should help feed
approximately 105,000 people.

The food aid is being distributed by the CWS Afghanistan-Pakistan office to
refugee camps outside the cities of Peshawar and Quetta in northwestern
Pakistan, along the Afghan border. Aid has also reached settlements of
internally displaced persons in central and northern Afghanistan.

The itemized breakdown of food packages: $112 (600 kilograms) of wheat;  $47
(44 liters) of cooking oil; $42 (80 kilograms) of rice; $39 (8 kilograms) of
tea; $10 (24 kilograms) of sugar; and $6 (24 kilograms)of beans.

"Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is already making a difference for Afghan
refugees who desperately need food and shelter," said Ronda Hughes, director
of program interpretation for CWS, the relief and development agency of the
National Council of Churches. "The work that they're helping make possible
is happening right now."

In October, PDA channeled $500,000 to Afghan refugees through CWS for
shelter kits to help combat the deteriorating humanitarian crises in
Afghanistan. The kits - valued at about $90 each - included one family tent,
one ground sheet, one plastic sheet and four blankets.

Over the past month, Presbyterians have raised $37,000 through PDA for
Afghan refugees - $17,000 of which was used in the food-related relief
effort. An additional $108,000 was taken from PDA's general relief fund.

Burdine said Presbyterian contributions also support the Church World
Service Blanket Fund, a program that has Afghan women in Pakistan making
quilts to help refugees stay warm during the winter. Some 400 women are
participating while earning a small income through the project, which aims
to make at least 60,000 quilts for distribution to refugee families.

"This is a very worthwhile cause," Burdine said. "The quilts will be used
with some of the aid Presbyterians have sent."

With U.S. military planes continuing to tag-team between dropping aid
packages and dropping bombs, about a third of Afghanistan's population faces
starvation or homelessness this winter, the United Nations estimates. Even
before the U.S. bombing campaign began on Oct. 7, about six million Afghans
were reportedly depended on outside aid for food or shelter, according to
the UN.

"In recent days there have been some chaotic situations in various parts of
Afghanistan, but our aid is getting through," Hughes said.

About 55,000 tons of food is needed every month to feed those facing
starvation, officials say. The U.S. maintains that it's committed to lead an
aid campaign to assist Afghans already suffering from drought and years of
civil war.

Many aid agencies have criticized U.S. food drops, however, dismissing them
as propaganda and labeling them inadequate and insufficient to address the
mounting humanitarian crisis.

September 11th response 

PDA officials are assuring those who donate money through its ongoing aid
appeal for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, that "100 percent" of
the funds are going to those impacted by the tragic events in New York and
Washington, DC.

The announcement was made to head off potential concern surrounding the
PDA's 9-11 aid campaign, after some agencies, most notably the American Red
Cross, received heavy criticism last month over how donations targeted for
attack victims were being distributed.

"Presbyterian Disaster Assistance would like to assure its donors that 100
percent of the gifts designated for the Sept. 11th response will be used to
provide compassionate assistance to those most affected by the terrorist
attack," PDA said last month in an e-mail statement. It also posted a
similar statement on its World Wide Web site -

Presbyterians responding to the appeal contributed more than $1.2 million in
the first month following the attacks. That figure has since grown to $3.3
million, according to PDA.

Stan Hankins, the PDA's associate for U.S. disaster response, said
Presbyterians' "overwhelming generosity" nationwide has enabled the relief
arm of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to mount a "sizeable response" to the

So far, PDA has provided $110,000 to the Presbytery of New York City in
response to the needs of direct and indirect disaster survivors (those who
lost jobs and/or wages). Another $15,000 is at work through ALIVE! Inc., a
Presbyterian-supported ecumenical organization based in Alexandria, VA.

ALIVE! Inc. seeks to meet the needs of about 300 low-income people who have
been impacted by the downturn in the tourism and hospitality industries, as
well as the temporary closure of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport,
Hankins said. Funds also are being used to train and support pastors and
church leaders in ministering to disaster survivors.

PDA recently sent $35,000 to the Presbytery of Olympia in Washington state
to support families of military personnel in the Pacific Northwest deployed
overseas as a result of Sept. 11.

"It shows the magnitude, the scope of this thing," Hankins said. "When
you're talking about New York City and also Washington state, that really
says something."

Other aspects of PDA's initial and continuing response to the terrorist
attacks include:

*  Personnel Deployment - Led by the Rev. Paul Masquelier, presbytery
executive for San Jose Presbytery, several members of the Presbyterian
Disaster Assistance Team (PDAT) traveled to the New York City area to help
organize the Presbyterian response and provide pastoral care for clergy and
church leaders.

*  Spiritual and Emotional Care Counselors - In addition to PDAT members,
PDA is participating with other denominations through Church World Service
in providing pastoral-care counselors who are being matched with requests
from churches and community groups nationwide.

*  Material Resources - Grief resources prepared by the Centering
Corporation in Omaha, NE, have been provided to victims' families through
the Family Assistance Center in New York. Churches in New York City received
When Grief is Raw, containing songs and liturgy for times of sorrow and

*  Trauma Response Training - Training and consulting on trauma and grief
ministries through CWS is being offered to New York City area religious

*  Strong support is also being given to a program for religious leaders
offered at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA, which will
provide training in broad justice and peace building frameworks, as well as
specific trauma and healing knowledge.

Giving to PDA

Visit PDA's Web site - - to donate to the humanitarian
crisis in Afghanistan or to Sept. 11 relief aid; or call PresbyTel at:

PDA has established two separate accounts for Presbyterian contributions. 
Account #9-2000157 is being used to respond to needs in the United States. 
International response, primarily to the humanitarian situation in
Afghanistan/Pakistan, is being funded with gifts to account #9-2000038.
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