On November 30, 2009, the highly-respected faith-based justice organization, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, had a shocking experience of yet another blow to Canada’s reputation on the international stage.
CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) announced that long-term, effective programs in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America no longer “fit” its priorities. For more than 35 years, CIDA and KAIROS (including its predecessor organizations) worked cooperatively and successfully with overseas partners in advancing human rights, supporting women’s organizations, peace-building and ecological sustainability.
Loss of CIDA funding means that H?ritiers de la Justice, a KAIROS partner in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, will be hampered in its work to fight rape as a weapon of war. A women’s legal clinic to address rampant gender-based violence will not be established.
Loss of CIDA funding means an end to KAIROS’s work with the Sudan Council of Churches in mobilizing for the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in that country.
Loss of CIDA funding will have an impact on Indonesia’s Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence (KONTRAS) in ensuring their government investigates military abuses and compensates victims of human rights violations and military atrocities.
Loss of CIDA funding is a blow to the Organizaci?n Femenina Popular (OFP) in Magdalena Medio, a region that has experienced some of the worst human rights abuses in Colombia. The OFP runs 22 women’s centers, offering such programs as community development, health, education and legal services.
In a recent letter, the OFP appealed to Minister Bev Oda to continue funding KAIROS, “so that our sons and daughters grow up without being recruited by armed groups, kidnapped or assassinated, so they have the right to a dignified life.”
KAIROS worked with its partners to develop a 2009-2013 program proposal for CIDA. KAIROS also worked with program staff from CIDA and made the adjustments requested as the proposal moved fairly quickly through all levels of approval. This ended abruptly when the proposal reached Minister Oda?s desk in July. Five months later came the call: the proposal is rejected. The only explanation: the KAIROS program did not fit CIDA’s priorities – which must have come as quite a surprise to the CIDA staff who had judged it ready for the Minister’s signature.
Countless Canadians, individually or through KAIROS member churches or Canadian NGOs, have urged Minister Oda, the Prime Minister, and the President of CIDA to reverse this decision for the sake of 21 ecumenical and citizen’s organizations in the Global South – and for the sake of Canada’s international reputation.
Won?t you join them? Contact your Member of Parliament, as well as The Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada (firstname.lastname@example.org).