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

Panit

Panit's story of surviving childhood abuse

Thursday, 20 February 2020 — LIFT International

Panit* has a round face and an easy smile. His skin has faded tattoos that a neighbour gave him when he was 10 or 11. After school, he sings in a choral group and even enters competitions. Panit spends perhaps too much time playing video games, staying up late at night, but he goes to church on Sunday and then comes home to do chores. He’s living the life of a typical, busy teenager. Panit is also a survivor of childhood abuse.
 

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“They came suddenly, at night. It was a Friday.”

“They came suddenly, at night. It was a Friday.”

Thursday, 13 February 2020 — Medair

Rahim* always dreamt of becoming a doctor. As a child growing up in a small village in Rakhine State, in western Myanmar, he observed his uncle – a doctor – and decided he wanted to follow in his footsteps. However, Rahim and his family were forced to flee, leaving all their possessions behind due to the Rohingya crisis, and it seemed his dream of becoming a doctor was far from ever coming true.

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The Extreme Jobs Of People Living In Poverty

The Extreme Jobs Of People Living In Poverty

Thursday, 06 February 2020 — Compassion International

Meet four people in Asia who do extreme jobs to feed their families. Though their occupations are harsh, they can teach us the dignity of work and the beauty of sacrificing to care for your loved ones.

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The Boy Trafficked onto the Lake

The Boy Trafficked onto the Lake

Wednesday, 05 February 2020 — Compassion International

Ebenezer was exploited at just 8 years old. He was offered a job to work as a fisherboy on Lake Volta in Ghana. He accepted this offer because he and his grandma were desperate for money. But what he received was not what he was promised.

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One person helped change the lives of three families

One person helped change the lives of three families

Thursday, 23 January 2020 — Grace Stanton

Imagine if you could talk to your child sponsor in their language. Imagine sponsoring not one, but three girls, and meeting them all for the first time after two years of sponsorship. Imagine what it would be like realising how much of an impact you were having on a family. The gratitude, the joy, the peace, and the freedom families experience through one person deciding to care for another young person’s life. This is Ly-Ly’s story.
 

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What it means for a child to be known: Five-year-old cheats death twice

What it means for a child to be known: Five-year-old cheats death twice

Thursday, 16 January 2020 — Caroline Mwinemwesigwa

After escaping death as a child sacrifice, young Amuza from Uganda became a sponsored child through Compassion. His life was saved a second time when Compassion provided assistance with medical treatment for tuberculosis.

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What it means for a child to be known: Soccer, more than a game

What it means for a child to be known: Soccer, more than a game

Tuesday, 14 January 2020 — Isaac Ogila

Growing up was not easy for Ciku. At an early age, her father died, and her mother turned to alcohol to deal with the grief and the stress of having to provide for five children. For Ciku, soccer was more than just a game, it gave her a purpose.  

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