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Muslim Aid, UMCOR sign landmark global aid partnership

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On Tuesday, one of Britain's most influential Muslim charities and one of the Christian world's most prominent relief agencies signed a landmark partnership to build peace and help relieve poverty currently afflicting millions of people across the globe.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Timms MP hosted senior representatives from UK-based Muslim Aid and US-based United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) at Portcullis House, Westminster. Both parties made an official partnership agreement that could result in approximately =A37.5m in direct relief to disaster, war and conflict-ridden areas of the world, including Sri Lanka and Indonesia. This is in addition to =A35m already applied in Sri Lanka, all totalling =A312.5m.

"This is a unique partnership between Christians and Muslims that will benefit some of the least well off people in the world and I applaud the vision that has brought these groups together," commented Stephen Timms. "I know that drawing together the skills and experience of the two organisations will mean that many more people will have a better quality of life and I wish them every success in this endeavour."

The partnership was also endorsed by Hilary Benn, UK Secretary of State for International Development. He believes it is an exciting and ground-breaking collaboration whereby organisations will work across faiths to achieve shared goals.

UMCOR and Muslim Aid first began working together in Sri Lanka in 2005 following the tsunami disaster. They were among the only organizations to provide relief when the fighting broke out in Mutur in the summer of 2006. Whilst working closely to serve the people of this region, the two faith-based organisations realized the potential for a worldwide partnership.

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 want to create a model for other religious and non-religious organisations 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 organisation of UMCOR. "The world desperately needs that kind of hope and this is a chance to create a new peace building paradigm."

"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 can flourish."

Both groups acknowledge that religious barriers do exist though, which in the past may have hindered relief efforts in communities that practised a different faith from either organisation. Now, with Muslims and Christians working in unison, significant progress is being made to ensure this 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.

(ENDS)

For more information and photos, please contact Michael Siva at media@muslimaid.org or 0207-377-4220

ATTN. EDITORS:

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.

Please contact Michael Siva on 0207 377 4200 for further details.