Imagine this scenario: You’re handing out food baskets to refugees fleeing a conflict. There are women, children, and men asking for help, including several from the local population who aren’t refugees. Several wounded fighters are asking for help including those from a terrorist group and those from an oppressive military regime largely responsible for creating refugees. You don’t have enough aid to provide to everyone. So, who do you give it to, and in which order?

As a humanitarian organisation with limited resources, we and our partners are regularly required to make difficult, often heart-breaking decisions of who to help and who to turn away. The reality is that when providing aid you need to make distinctions between people and prioritise them accordingly. The question is: what’s a fair way to do this, and what’s unfair or discriminatory?

Fortunately, we have the United Nation’s humanitarian principles and a consistent Christian theology to adhere to.

The principle of impartiality explains “provision of humanitarian assistance must be impartial and no discrimination on the basis of nationality, race, gender, religion, political opinion or class. It must be based on need alone. Priority must be given to the most urgent cases of distress”. Furthermore, the principle of neutrality states humanitarian organisations must not take sides in a conflict.

This gives us a fair method by which to make distinctions and treat people, similar to triage in a hospital: need, and need alone. This approach is important because as history has shown us, ideologies and movements that discriminate are harmful and even deadly to those on the wrong end of them. In fact, they’ve resulted in the worst atrocities of human history.

On a more macro level, in the context of global development, we use these principles to prioritize which groups or categories of people are in the greatest need of aid. This includes communities, and sometimes age groups, ethnicities and genders. For example, child sponsorship focusses on those aged up to 18. In many of the contexts we work in, women tend to be more vulnerable, so some of our projects are specifically catered for them. And our programmes helping persecuted people groups can focus exclusively on an ethno-religious group. Although this involves a level of differentiating based on categories such as gender, age, and ethnicity, it’s done through a lens of assessing the needs of different groups, relative to others.

This approach of helping those in need regardless of who they are is also consistent with our Christian beliefs. The bible teaches us that all people are made in the image of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and the love he has for them—exemplified by Jesus dying for us all on the cross. Jesus also asks us to love our neighbour regardless of the categories they fall in, as shown in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In the Sermon on the Mount he goes a step further to say “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for those who persecute you”, demonstrating benevolence shouldn’t be withheld from anyone.

We hope that helps to answer the question! Read more about who we are here.


Recent posts

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Why periods are no longer a red light

Why periods are no longer a red light

Monday, 11 October 2021 — Compassion International

Today is International Day of the Girl Child where we recognise the rights and unique challenges girls face globally. One of the many challenges they face is period poverty. Millions of girls in developing countries experience shame, confusion and even stigma and discrimination when they get their period. The good news is in Compassion centres around the world, girls are finding education, protection, empowerment, safe bathrooms and period supplies.

 

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World Mental Health Day: What war, natural disasters and Covid-19 lockdowns have in common

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Friday, 08 October 2021 — Carl Adams

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If only you knew: Owen’s story

If only you knew: Owen’s story

Monday, 04 October 2021 — Compassion International

When Owen found out he was sponsored, his mother spun him around the room, his brothers jumped up and down and their faces lit up with huge grins. Owen knew his life was about to change, but what he didn’t expect was through his sponsor’s letters, he would first hear the words “I love you”. Owen and his sponsor became the best of friends through letter-writing. His sponsor even flew to Kenya to be the best man at his wedding! This year, Owen was invited to write one last letter to his former sponsor. It had been 12 years since they last wrote to one another.

 

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Some of the best sponsorship stories that came out of a global pandemic

Some of the best sponsorship stories that came out of a global pandemic

Friday, 24 September 2021 — Compassion International

Life under Covid-19 lockdown has been tough, especially for those living in poverty. Compassion’s Zoe Noakes shares some inspiring examples of how the pandemic didn’t stop people from showing up for each other—like the young man who rode a buffalo around his community with a karaoke machine to spread joy and raise funds for Covid-19 patients.

 

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Three ways to pray for the child you sponsor

Three ways to pray for the child you sponsor

Tuesday, 21 September 2021 — Compassion International

It can be hard to know how to pray for your sponsored child if you don’t understand their cultural context or what they’re going through. Children in different countries can experience poverty in various ways. In this short blog, we suggest three things you can pray for.

 

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Time to be kind to Afghans

Time to be kind to Afghans

Tuesday, 14 September 2021 — Josie Pagani

Council for International Development director Josie Pagani calls the withdrawal from Afghanistan a disaster, and says the New Zealand Government should take in a thousand Afghan refugees in this year’s refugee quota. She also says we need to back the offer Turkey made to the Afghan Government to run chartered evacuation and aid flights through Kabul airport.
 

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