Char­ity week tack­les vi­o­lence

The Church of England - - News -

‘TACK­LING Vi­o­lence: Build­ing Peace’ has been the theme of this week’s Chris­tian Aid week which started on 11 May and ends on 17 May. It has been strongly sup­ported by both the present Arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury, Justin Welby, and by his pre­de­ces­sor, Rowan Wil­liams.

Chris­tian Aid has iden­ti­fied a num­ber of causes that trap people in poverty. Debt, cli­mate change, un­fair trad­ing, tax-dodg­ing and land theft have all been iden­ti­fied as rea­sons why some people live in des­ti­tu­tion.

This year the fo­cus has been on the role played by con­flict in caus­ing poverty and im­ped­ing de­vel­op­ment. Places like the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of the Congo, South Sudan, Syria, Iraq and Colom­bia are of­ten quoted as coun­tries cur­rently ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the im­pact of con­flict but Chris­tian Aid has also drawn at­ten­tion to the on-go­ing need to help coun­tries like Sierra Leone, which is still strug­gling to rebuild af­ter fight­ing has stopped.

Lit­er­a­ture pro­duced by Chris­tian Aid to as­sist the cam­paign points out that war­fare is re­spon­si­ble for driv­ing people from their homes as refugees and for leav­ing chil­dren as or­phans when their par­ents are killed in fight­ing.

In an in­au­gu­ral lec­ture de­liv­ered in Par­lia­ment to launch Chris­tian Aid week, Bishop RowanWil­liams, who is the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s Pres­i­dent, iden­ti­fied in­equal­ity as a key fac­tor in pro­vok­ing vi­o­lence. He said it was cru­cial for power to be re­dis­tributed to stop con­flict spread­ing.

“In­equal­i­ties of power, in the form of rad­i­cally un­equal lev­els of ac­cess to de­ci­sion-mak­ing, process of law, ed­u­ca­tion and civic free­doms, are of­ten de­scribed as forms of ‘struc­tural vi­o­lence’. And this should help us see why in­equal­i­ties in these ar­eas are so of­ten gen­er­a­tors of oth­ers sorts of vi­o­lence,” Dr Wil­liams claimed.

“Poverty and a sense of pow­er­less­ness are reg­u­larly among the ma­jor driv­ers of vi­o­lence; while vi­o­lence in turn is a ma­jor driver of poverty,” he said. He also high­lighted the role women play in peace-build­ing while at the same time suf­fer­ing dis­pro­por­tion­ate lev­els of vi­o­lence.

Dr Wil­liams high­lighted the risk to peace and se­cu­rity posed by cli­mate change. “The sense of hope­less­ness in the face of en­vi­ron­men­tal dan­ger can lead ei­ther to ap­a­thy or to sav­age con­flict over limited re­sources,” he said.

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