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

Ten stories from 2021 that will make you smile

Ten stories from 2021 that will make you smile

Friday, 14 January 2022 — Compassion International

Natural disasters and a pandemic only exacerbate the effects of poverty, leaving children and families with no hope for a better future. But these micro-stories show that when the Church offers a helping hand, their circumstances can change.
 

Read more

Does your sponsorship help to lift a child out of poverty?

Does your sponsorship help to lift a child out of poverty?

Monday, 20 December 2021 — Compassion International

Our child sponsorship programme isn't just about responding to poverty by handing out food or Bibles. We also seek to develop children in all the different aspects of their lives including their minds, bodies and relationships. How does that work? Take a look!
 

Read more

How does sponsorship help a child’s physical development?

How does sponsorship help a child’s physical development?

Thursday, 16 December 2021 — Compassion International

The final blog of our four-part series discusses the impact that sponsorship has on a child’s physical development. For a child to break the cycle of poverty, they need a holistic development approach. This starts with meeting their physical needs. 
 

Read more

How does sponsorship help a child’s emotional development?

How does sponsorship help a child’s emotional development?

Tuesday, 07 December 2021 — Compassion International

The third blog of our four-part blog series looks at the emotional development of a sponsored child. Poverty robs children of the belief in themselves and the hope of a different future. Sponsorship provides children with this hope and the emotional stability that children need to thrive.
 

Read more

 Special delivery brings Christmas joy to vulnerable families

Special delivery brings Christmas joy to vulnerable families

Friday, 03 December 2021 — Compassion International

This year the pandemic has increased poverty in Ecuador, climate change has destroyed crops, and most migrants will not return home for Christmas due to shortages of money and jobs. Jenny’s husband is one of them, but her family was in for a beautiful surprise.
 

Read more

How does sponsorship help a child’s spiritual development?

How does sponsorship help a child’s spiritual development?

Thursday, 02 December 2021 — Compassion International

The second blog of our four-part series looks at the spiritual development of a sponsored child. Solely addressing symptoms of poverty are temporarily helpful. But knowing Jesus and releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name is ultimately what we’re called to do.
 

Read more

The first Christmas gift ever received

The first Christmas gift ever received

Wednesday, 01 December 2021 — Compassion International

Just north of Mexico City is one of the most violent towns in the State, where people commit crimes to survive. But amongst the misery that poverty can bring, in the heart of this town is a Compassion centre, bringing joy, hope, and love to vulnerable children at Christmas. Two children from the community can hardly contain their excitement as they wait to receive their first Christmas gift.
 

Read more

Show more