Tunisia – LWF, NCA and CoS all say Tunisian work under ACT was great success

By Peter Kenny, LWF Communications Consultant

Geneva, 18 October (LWF) — The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and the Church of Sweden (CoS) view their recent response to the humanitarian emergency in Tunisia and Libya under ACT Alliance as an example of successful cooperation and teamwork.

The LWF, NCA and CoS worked together in response to the humanitarian emergency in Tunisia and Libya under the framework of ACT Alliance, implementing an ACT appeal that was finalized in September.

From left: Benedicte Haaskjold, NCA Hygiene Adviser,; Avelino Batong, LWF who was the ACT team leader; Saied Hatim, the UNHCR’s camp manager; Randi Jahnsen, NCA WASH Engineer; David Banks, NCA WASH Engineer; Yvonne Larsen, CoS Psycho-Social Coordinator. Copyright - ACT Alliance

The LWF General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge had in March urged LWF member churches to pray, support and advocate for people in North Africa and the Middle East so “that violence and repression will stop,” that people would “be treated with dignity and respect” and that leaders “will be chosen who are honest and accountable.”

This followed a popular uprising that began in Tunisia in December. It forced the Tunisian president to flee the country in January. Similar protests in Egypt in January forced the country’s president to step aside in February. Protests that began peacefully in Libya in February are still resulting in a humanitarian crisis in the parts of the country as its ousted president fights on.

The Rev. Eberhard Hitzler, the Director of the LWF’s Department for World Service, commented, “It is not easy to say ‘mission accomplished’ when one sees the ongoing struggle for liberation from dictatorship and oppression in Libya and the Middle East.

“Nevertheless I am pleased and impressed about the excellent cooperation of LWF with NCA and Church of Sweden, in providing assistance to the people who had to leave Libya because of violence. As the lead agency in an ACT Alliance operation we were able to provide an effective administrative umbrella for other ACT members to address the immediate needs of refugees in transition camps.”

Fortunately most of the refugees have now been resettled and the camps can be closed. “In so far it is indeed mission accomplished,’” he said.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ records, more than 685,000 people left Libya and some 365, 000 of them crossed into Tunisia through Ras Jdir, and Dehibat in the period from December 2010.

John Nduna, General Secretary of the ACT Alliance said, “ACT Alliance members brought a phenomenal commitment to responding to the effects of the Libya crisis, launching humanitarian programs to support refugee and local populations in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia through tailored and timely support. I am very proud of the work our members achieved together in a challenging humanitarian environment’.”

For his part Arild Isaksen, NCA Head of Emergency Preparedness, said, “We are very pleased with this joint ACT Alliance program in Tunisia. This provides valuable experience for similar operations for joint ACT Alliance activity in the future where we have a clear mandate for each organization operating as one body. Humanitarian work is a good place for such cooperation and I can see us working with the LWF in such a situation in the coming time.”

He said the operation functioned very well and that those who took part worked together as a team in the field.

Maria Lundberg, the Church of Sweden, Head of Church of Sweden’s section for Humanitarian Assistance, said ACT Alliance’s international expertise worked very well as “in this case as there were no local members in Tunisia. It was an international consortium under the umbrella of the LWF through the ACT Alliance.”

“We were able to carry though the mandate and have learned from the operation. We were able to pool resources and could see we worked really well together.” Lundberg said it was a good test for the strategy of the LWF.

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