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UMCOR, Muslim Aid to sign partnership agreement

United Methodist Committee on Relief vehicles deliver boats to communities in Sri Lanka following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that devastated coastal communities of South Asia and East Africa. UMCOR is joining with Muslim Aid, a British Muslim charity, on relief projects around the world in a partnership being announced June 26 in London. A UMNS photo courtesy of UMCOR.

June 18, 2007 | NEW YORK (UMNS)


The Rev. R. Randy Day

The United Methodist Committee on Relief is teaming up with one of Britain's most influential Muslim charities to assist millions of people across the globe.

On June 26, UMCOR and Muslim Aid will sign a partnership agreement in London that could result in nearly $15 million in direct relief to disaster, war and conflict-ridden areas of the world, including Sri Lanka and Indonesia. This is in addition to $9.8 million already applied in Sri Lanka, for a total of $25 million.

Organizers of the partnership say it will mean maximum response to global disasters, enhanced economic and social development and, they hope, a new peace-building model based on cross-cultural understanding.

"We want to create a model for other religious and non-religious organizations to follow—to demonstrate that people of very different and sometimes conflicting backgrounds, faiths and cultures can work together to help humanity," said the Rev. R. Randy Day, chief executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, the parent organization of UMCOR.

"The world desperately needs that kind of hope, and this is a chance to create a new peace-building paradigm."

UMCOR, part of the 13 million-member United Methodist Church, is active in more than 80 countries. Muslim Aid’s influence is felt across 50 of the world's poorest countries.

"We are proof that it is possible for Muslims and Christians to come together for a common good. Alone we are only so strong, but together we can save more lives and provide relief and dignity to millions more."
-The Rev. R. Randy Day

"Our partnership with UMCOR reaches out beyond our own religious communities to benefit people in need, no matter what their religious faith," said Farooq Murad, chairman of Muslim Aid. "Muslim Aid and UMCOR have already proven that we can work together and will continue to work to establish healthy, open communities where trust and faith can flourish."

Common ground

The two organizations first worked together in Sri Lanka after the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami, providing emergency relief and, later, helping people fleeing from heavy fighting between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan military.

Despite the ongoing conflict, UMCOR repaired houses and covered reconstruction costs for refugees returning to their wrecked homes. Muslim Aid cleaned wells and provided livelihood projects for the residents.

"We worked side by side in Sri Lanka, identifying local partners for materials distribution and solving problems that cropped up in the predominantly Muslim town of Mutur. Our shared success has led us to this new ground-breaking partnership," Day said.


Farooq Murad

Both groups acknowledge that religious barriers exist, and that those may have hindered past relief efforts in communities that practiced a different faith from either organization. Now, with Muslims and Christians working in unison, they hope to overcome that roadblock.

The aid organizations expect their partnership will lead to better access into communities where aid is needed most, such as in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country. Both Muslim Aid and UMCOR can tap ties to local faith leaders to better identify problems and provide aid directly on the grassroots level.

"We are proof that it is possible for Muslims and Christians to come together for a common good," Day said. "Alone we are only so strong, but together we can save more lives and provide relief and dignity to millions more."

For more information, visit www.umcormuslimaid.org.

News media contact: Ginny Underwood, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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UMCOR-Muslim Aid Web site

United Methodist Committee on Relief

Muslim Aid

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