World Service Response Targets Most Vulnerable Families
GENEVA, 21 August 2012 (LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is moving to provide humanitarian relief to thousands of persons displaced by a recent flare-up of longstanding ethnic conflict in India’s northeastern Assam state.
Lutheran World Service India Trust (LWSIT), an associate program of the LWF’s Department for World Service (DWS), plans to supply food, clothing and shelter to thousands of the most vulnerable displaced families as part of an ACT Alliance response effort.
A fresh round of violence erupted between the ethnic Bodo community and migrant Muslims in the area after four youths were killed on 19 July. Since then, nearly 80 people have been killed and 400,000 have fled their homes for camps.
“Most of these displaced people are not willing to return due to the continuing violence,” ACT Alliance noted in a 10 August appeal including the LWSIT response. “Moreover, in most of the cases their homes have been burned down. The health and hygiene conditions in the camps are deplorable.”
LWSIT, which has development programs in the region, has carried out an initial assessment of needs and observed that the health and hygiene conditions have deteriorated significantly in recent weeks.
Executive director Dr James Vijayakumar said that LWSIT is extending emergency services to 5,000 families in 60 villages in Assam’s Kokrajhar district, providing supplementary baby food for the most vulnerable children, as well as clothing, hygiene items, shelter and sleeping materials for the worst affected families from both the Bodo and Muslim communities.
The Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church (NELC), an LWF member church, is located in the affected area and the LWF’s Department for Mission and Development is in contact with NELC and United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India, the national Lutheran communion, as they assess the impact of the violence.
“A good number of the beneficiaries of the LWSIT intervention would be from the NELC,” noted Vijayakumar.
He added that many of the displaced families are in 270 relief camps near town centers so they can be protected by authorities. In their isolated villages, they would be vulnerable to attack from either of the factions.
“This is an invisible emergency with no international profile,” concluded Duane Poppe, program officer for DWS associate programs. (382 words)