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

The Kiwi man pioneering a life changing post war dairy project

The Kiwi man pioneering a life changing post war dairy project

Saturday, 28 March 2020 — Grace Stanton

After the Sri Lankan war many farming families lost everything. Including their main source of income, rice. Traditionally, locals had only milked their cows for personal use, but Tearfund helped add to their traditional dairy farming knowledge and linked them to a supply chain where they could sell it. Many farmers that were in debt or below the poverty line now have a regular monthly income!

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5 Top Tips for talking to your little kids about Covid-19

5 Top Tips for talking to your little kids about Covid-19

Wednesday, 25 March 2020 — Tearfund New Zealand

Talking to our kids about Covid-19 is an important and delicate thing most Kiwi parents are doing this week. As we all head into lockdown from midnight tonight, our team has scoured the best advice globally and distilled it into the Top 5 tips below for kids under 13. 

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Living with a Pandemic

Living with a Pandemic

Wednesday, 25 March 2020 — Sean du Toit

Help is what we need right now. In times like this, it is easy to focus so much on the problem that we get overwhelmed with the size and complexity of it. We tend to forget that our God is more than able to help and guide us through these troubling times. The psalmist was facing great difficulty, but he knew where help would ultimately be found. Of course we should listen to the government and health officials and take note of best practices to ensure the safety of all. But ultimately, we need to lean on the God who is faithful and able to provide a help that goes beyond what the government and health agencies can do.  

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#4 Do you consent to be content?

#4 Do you consent to be content?

Monday, 16 March 2020 — Sean du Toit

Last week was tough as we looked at the idea of greed and how that can be destructive in people’s lives. This week we focus on the virtue of contentment.
 

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More Than Just Milk

More Than Just Milk

Wednesday, 11 March 2020 — Grace Stanton

Meet the Waikato dairy farmer that didn’t always want to be a dairy farmer but ended up helping change thousands of lives in northern Sri Lanka through dairy farming.
 

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#3 Take Care!

#3 Take Care!

Monday, 09 March 2020 — Sean du Toit

Having looked at the virtue of gratitude last week, today we look at the vice of greed. It is difficult to have a positive discussion of a vice. So imagine this is leg day at the gym. You know it is going to be tough, but if you do the work, it will pay off and be beneficial later on.
 

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#2 An Attitude of Gratitude

#2 An Attitude of Gratitude

Monday, 02 March 2020 — Sean du Toit

Last week we looked at the creation story and how that can shape us. Now, we begin our reflections on virtue with gratitude, a powerful virtue that shapes our experience of life.

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