Their "All Our Children" campaign is the latest step in the American faith community's humanitarian response in Iraq over the past dozen years. Funds raised will purchase desperately needed items such as antibiotics, anesthesia, IV solution kits and methods for accessing clean drinking water.
"During the last 20 years, the children of Iraq have suffered at the hands of both internal and external forces," says the campaign appeal. "The Gulf War in 1991 and more than a decade of sanctions have followed on the heels of a protracted Iraqi war with Iran during the 1980s. Estimates of the number of children who have died run from 500,000 to more than one million."
The United Nations attributes the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children to the trade sanctions in place since 1990. The sanctions have exhausted the resources of many Iraqi families.
"It is a crisis of tragic proportions to which compassionate people of faith in the United States must respond," the "All Our Children" appeal says. "At a time of great anxiety about another war in Iraq, this effort by people in the U.S.A. will be a tangible demonstration of our love for children - a love shared by all humanity."
Church World Service, a global humanitarian agency of the National Council of Churches' 36 member churches, has provided more than $3 million in blankets, food, medical supplies, "Gift of the Heart" School and Health Kits and other aid for families and children in Iraq since 1991.
Other initial partners in the "All Our Children" campaign are Jubilee Partners, Stop Hunger Now, Sojourners and the Mennonite Central Committee - which itself has shipped approximately $4.2 million worth of food and material assistance to Iraq in the last decade. MCC also supports a number of agriculture, education and health-related developmental relief projects in Iraq and has had North American personnel in Iraq since 1998.
As the "All Our Children" campaign begins to collect contributions, it is requesting the necessary permits from the U.S. government to deliver humanitarian aid to Iraq. The plan is to distribute the supplies to pediatric hospitals and institutions under the supervision of international relief organizations.
In a related effort, announced Nov. 26, Church World Service is raising funds for a separate Mennonite Central Committee aid package, to include tents, blankets, medicines and personal hygiene supplies, along with "Gift of the Heart" School Kits that CWS shipped earlier to Aqaba, Jordan.
Church World Service and the National Council of Churches request that contributions to the "All Our Children" campaign be so designated and be sent to "Church World Service, Iraq Humanitarian Crisis, Account #6801, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515 (or 28606 Phillips St., Elkhart, IN 46514). Phone pledges or credit card donations can be made by calling 1-800-297-1516; on-line donations may be made at www.churchworldservice.org