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Christian and Muslim Relief Groups Form Landmark Global Aid Partnership

For Immediate Release
June 18, 2007

Contact: Diane Denton, 615.742.5406 ddenton@umcom.org
Jenni Brewer, 703.741.7047 jbrewer@golinharris.com

Christian and Muslim Relief Groups Form Landmark Global Aid Partnership
United Methodist Committee on Relief and Muslim Aid Working to Save Millions and Foster Peace

One of the Christian world's most prominent relief agencies and one of Britain's most influential Muslim charities are announcing a landmark partnership to relieve the suffering of millions of people across the globe.

On June 26 in London U.S.-based United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and UK-based Muslim Aid will sign a partnership agreement that could result in approximately $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, all totalling $25 million.

This inter-religious partnership will mean maximum response to global disasters, enhanced economic and social development, and, UMCOR hopes, 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," says the Rev. R. Randy Day, general secretary 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 global 13 million member denomination of The United Methodist Church, is active in over 80 countries. Since 2004 the people of The United Methodist Church have donated more than $170 million to alleviate human suffering caused by war, poverty, conflict, and natural disasters. Muslim Aid's influence is felt across 50 of the world's poorest countries. These two charitable powerhouses have already proven that theirs will be a harmonious and crucial alliance.

"Our partnership with UMCOR reaches out beyond our own religious communities to benefit people in need, no matter what their religious faith," says 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."

The two organizations first worked together in Sri Lanka during 2004's tsunami disaster, providing emergency relief to victims and, later, to 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," says Day.

Both groups acknowledge that religious barriers do exist though, which in the past may have hindered relief efforts in communities that practiced a different faith from either organization. Now, with Muslims and Christians working in unison, that roadblock is overcome.

This innovative partnership will lead to better access into communities where aid is needed most, like Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country. There are unique links that exist between faith-based NGOs and their grassroots faith leaders. Now both Muslim Aid and UMCOR can tap those local ties to better identify problems and provide aid directly on the grassroots level.

During a time when ethnic and cultural anxieties are at an all-time high, UMCOR and Muslim Aid demonstrate that different faiths are not so different when it comes to saving lives.

"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," says Day.

For more information on this partnership, please visit www.umcormuslimaid.org.

UMCOR

UMCOR is part of the global13 million member denomination of The United Methodist Church, is active in over 80 countries. Since 2004 the people of The United Methodist Church have donated more than $170 million to alleviate human suffering caused by war, poverty, conflict, and natural disasters.

Muslim Aid

Muslim Aid is an international relief and development charity working to alleviate the suffering among the world's poorest and most needy communities. Set up in 1985 by leading British Muslim organisations, Muslim Aid supports projects in 50 countries spanning Africa, Asia and Europe. By responding quickly to emergencies, Muslim Aid provides relief to the victims of natural disasters, war and famine. We also deploy long-term development projects on education, skills training, provision of clean water and healthcare to tackle the root causes of poverty.

Muslim Aid is a signatory of the Red Cross Code of Conduct of NGOs in Disaster Relief, a member of British NGOs for Overseas Development (BOND) and supports the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and the MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY campaign.