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One cannot tell what happens with governments when it comes to issues that pursue justice. CIDA, Canada’s development agency is reported to cut support to KAIROS (as stated below) the main question that remains unanswered is; why has CIDA taken this move…
Attention: Religion, Foreign, Social and Human Rights Journalists
For Immediate Release Wednesday, 02 December 2009
(Toronto) The Canadian government’s decision to cut funding to KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives will have a devastating impact on KAIROS’ overseas partners and the thousands of marginalized people in local communities they support, KAIROS announced today.
KAIROS, a church based non-governmental organization that represents seven of Canada’s largest denominations, works on a range of social justice issues, including human rights in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
An official from CIDA called KAIROS executive director Mary Corkery on Monday afternoon, November 30th, to inform her that CIDA would no longer fund KAIROS. Corkery was told that KAIROS no longer fits CIDA priorities. No other explanation or information was provided.
KAIROS’ current contract with CIDA expired in September, but it had received an extension until November 30th, the day it was informed of the cuts.
“We are disheartened that this longstanding relationship and decades of support by the Canadian government has been ended,” says Corkery. “KAIROS and the millions of Canadians we represent through our member churches and organizations do not understand why these cuts have been made.”
In a message to Bev Oda, Minister for International Cooperation, requesting an explanation, Corkery writes, “I know of no precedent for the Canadian International Development Agency ending a decades-long funding relationship with a major Canadian organization without notice in writing, with no reason and no transition plan”.
The CIDA-funded overseas program received matching financial support from KAIROS’ member churches, church-related organizations and other donors. Since 1973, KAIROS, and the church coalitions from which it was formed eight years ago, had received funding from CIDA to support partners working in regions experiencing some of the world’s most egregious human rights violations.
KAIROS’ work is highly regarded in Canada and overseas. As the November 30th deadline approached, KAIROS member churches, its partners and other organizations had been writing Minister Oda to request that she approve the KAIROS contract which has been sitting on her desk since July awaiting her signature.
One of those letters came from a Colombian group, theOrganización Femenina Popular (the Popular Women’s Group), which has been awaiting CIDA funding through KAIROS.
“As you know, we work in regions in Colombia where armed conflict has resulted in the denial of women’s basic rights. The economic support from KAIROS and CIDA permits us to implement programs which include legal and health services, community kitchens, and other humanitarian assistance that have saved many lives and given possibilities and opportunities to hundreds of women, mothers, wives, daughters, sisters and entire families,” Yolanda Becerra Vega, OFP Director General wrote to Bev Oda on Monday.
“In addition to the impact overseas, these cuts are a loss for Canadians,” says Corkery. “KAIROS educates Canadians across the country about Canada’s work for international development. Our work in Canada and overseas expresses Canadian values in upholding human rights, and is informed by excellent analysis of our partners in the Global South.”
The KAIROS contract that just expired received a positive audit and excellent CIDA evaluation this year. KAIROS submitted its new program proposal for 2009-2013 to CIDA in March 2009. It went through a lengthy approval process within CIDA up until the Minister’s level and has been waiting for approval from the Minister since July 2009.
The government’s decision comes a week after 57 people were massacred in politically motivated killings in the Philippines, including two lawyers from a human rights organization supported by KAIROS, and just days before Prime Minister Stephen Harper heads to China.
– 30 –
December 2, 2009
Request: That CIDA fund the 2009-2013 KAIROS proposal for international development and public engagement on human rights and ecological sustainability.
· KAIROS staff worked closely with global partners to develop the 2009-2013 program proposal which focused on human rights and ecological justice. It was submitted to CIDA in March 2009 and went fairly quickly through all levels of approval and arrived on the desk of Bev Oda, the Minister of International Cooperation, in July 2009. It remained on the Minister’s desk for five months. Any adjustments to the program requested by our program officer in the approvals phase were made.
CIDA priorities and human rights
In Sudan, KAIROS is working with Sudan Council of Churches (SCC) and its members to mobilize greater action for democratic peace. The full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan is essential to ensuring basic humanitarian, food security, livelihood needs of women and children and their communities will be met. Without KAIROS funding, theSCC will not be able to adequately pressure parties to implement this peace agreement. In a country with very weak civil society networks, SCC has been an essential voice in negotiating and implementing peace.
KAIROS and partners call on the networks and supporters of KAIROS to meet with their MPs to discuss this critical matter. Please, respectfully and politely,
-speak about your own positive involvement with KAIROS;
-express grave concern about this decision;
-state KAIROS’ desire to restore our long standing relationship with CIDA;
-emphasize the impacts of this decision on global partners and our work in Canada;
-ask them to call on the Government of Canada to reverse this decision.
Please also write to Prime Minister Stephen Harper firstname.lastname@example.org, Bev Oda, Minister of International Cooperation email@example.com, and Margaret Biggs, President of CIDAMargaret.Biggs@acdi-cida.gc.ca, requesting a reversal of the decision. Please copy your letters to KAIROS firstname.lastname@example.org.