Conflicts force ACN to dig deep to help persecuted Christians
The total aid paid out by Aid to the Church in Need topped €100 million (£73 million) for the first time in 2014 – with persecution and upheaval placing increased demands on the Catholic charity for those who suffer for their faith.
The record-breaking figure of €105 million (£76.7 million) – published in the charity’s annual report – showed that last year the charity paid out €17 million (£12.4 million) more than in 2013.
The charity – which now has fund-raising and awareness-raising operations in 20 countries, including Mexico, Colombia and Malta – supported 5,614 projects in 145 countries worldwide.
Central to the increase in aid was the Middle East – notably Iraq and Syria – where the charity has been helping thousands who have escaped violence, persecution and poverty.
ACN paid out nearly €1.95 million (£1.4 million) to Syria and €4.7 million (£3.3 million) to Iraq – providing for projects such as food, shelter and medicine for communities fleeing bombardment and oppression.
The charity provided eight schools – built from pre-fab structures – in Dohuk and Irbil, in Kurdish northern Iraq, to where 120,000 Christians fled after attacks by Islamic State militants.
Commenting on the international figures for the charity, Neville Kyrke-Smith said that in 2014, ACN UK, of which he is national director, paid out €1.5 million (£1.1million) more than the year before.
He said: “The attacks on Christian communities in the Middle East have moved the friends and benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need to extraordinary kindness. Last year was a record year for ACN.
“Sadly the critical situation, particularly in the Middle East, continues, as I witnessed on a recent trip to northern Iraq.”
A breakdown of the Aid to the Church in Need international figures for 2014 showed it had provided funding for 1,219,063 Mass stipends, 9,669 seminarians and 1,508 churches and other religious structures, as well as providing 1.4 million Christian education books.
Almost a third of ACN’s aid budget last year went to Africa, with significant support for Nigeria, where towns and villages in the north-east lie empty after Christians fled the Islamist terror group Boko Haram.
Eastern Europe received 18 per cent of aid, with requests for emergency and pastoral aid coming in following the outbreak of conflict in Ukraine, while the Philippines received nearly £1.35 million following the typhoon in November 2013.
PICTURE: With love, from all of us: Displaced children from northern Iraq outside ACN-funded school. © Aid to the Church in Need (UK)Tags: Aid to the Church in Need, catholic, charity, Poverty