Lutherans and UN refugee agency sign agreement on humanitarian cooperation

October 16, 2014

GENEVA

The Lutheran World Federation and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to provide assistance to internally displaced persons and refugees.

“We are witnessing record levels of forced displacement globally, and this makes it all the more important that we and faith-based organizations work together for the sake of the world’s refugees and internally displaced,” Janet Lim, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner, said.

“LWF is a long-standing close partner, and we're delighted to see the scope for our joint work expand.”

The LWF has worked with UNHCR for more than 50 years the LWF reported on its website.

“This MoU between UNHCR and LWF is not just about our two organizations,” LWF general secretary Rev. Martin Junge emphasized. “It is about a dramatically increasing number of refugees and migrants that require concerted efforts and strategic partnerships as the one we have signed today.”

“This is a time to show who you stand with,” Junge said. “With this signature the LWF stands with people suffering from persecution, oppression and hunger. The LWF stands with its longstanding vocation to be among those contributing towards peace, justice and reconciliation in this world.”

Junge said, “I look forward to exploring together with UNHCR and faith-based actors engaged in the humanitarian field the concrete value we add to humanitarian response in our world today.”

He referred to a similar agreement between the LWF and Islamic Relief Worldwide signed in August to cooperate in humanitarian work.

It is the first official cooperation between a global Christian and a global Islamic humanitarian organization.

Junge said the strategic partnership with UNHCR identifies the LWF as a faith based organization engaged in humanitarian work and adhering to international humanitarian standards.

The agreement expresses an expectation that the LWF and UNHCR will work together on how to build on the potentials of faith-based organizations in protecting refugees.

The LWF and UNHCR will collaborate in coordinating and managing camps and settlements, and in community-managed peace and protection interventions for children and other vulnerable groups.

Additional areas of cooperation include distributing non-food items, water and sanitation as well as promoting climate justice, environmental protection and sustainable livelihoods.

“As the LWF, we appreciate the incredible work of the UNHCR and the important operational challenges facing UNHCR in the face of significant humanitarian needs,” said LWF Humanitarian Coordinator Michael Hyden.

“In the face of these changes, UNHCR has shown tremendous commitment to serving people, with increasing emphasis on the principles of partnership at the highest level of the organization. This MoU with the LWF is a test of this commitment.”

The new accord replaces a global Framework Agreement for Operational Partnership signed between the two organizations in December 2000.

Editor’s note: The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are full-communion partners. Thus, the PC(USA) partners with the LWF in such organizations as the ACT Alliance, Church World Service and the World and National Councils of Churches. ― Jerry L. Van Marter