ACT statement on the attack on HEKS colleagues in Ukraine

ACT Alliance and the ACT Ukraine Forum were shocked and saddened to learn today of the deaths of two aid workers from our member HEKS/EPER, and the injury of four other HEKS/EPER employees yesterday in the southeast of Ukraine.

The aid workers were conducting a field assessment when they were attacked at about 2:30pm.

ACT Alliance offers its condolences and prayers to the friends and families of the colleagues killed, and to all the staff of HEKS, as well as all ACT members working in Ukraine in light of this devastating news.

HEKS is working to ensure the safe evacuation of the affected staff, and are providing support to all the staff involved, and their families.

ACT Alliance joins with HEKS in strongly condemning this unjustifiable attack, which is a serious violation of international humanitarian law.  Humanitarian workers and civilian populations must never be targets in conflict.

Read more on the HEKS website.

ACT joins Interfaith Liaison Committee call to COP28

30 November 2023, Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Carine Josiéle Wendland, a Lutheran World Federation delegate from the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil speaks as people gather for a so-called Talanoa dialogue at the (Anglican) Christ Church Jebel Ali in Dubai, in connection with the United Nations climate summit COP28. Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert
30 November 2023, Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Carine Josiéle Wendland, a Lutheran World Federation delegate from the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil speaks as people gather for a Talanoa dialogue at the (Anglican) Christ Church Jebel Ali in Dubai, in connection with the United Nations climate summit COP28. Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert

On November 30, 2023, the first day of COP28- the UN climate conference- in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, people of faith gathered at Christ Church, Jebal Ali, to hold a Talanoa dialogue, helping to define the call from people of faith to this COP.

A Talanoa dialogue is a way that people in the Pacific come together to discuss and decide on difficult issues facing their communities.  A Talanoa asks, and the people who are present answer, three questions:

  1. Where are we at?
  2. Where do we want to go?
  3. How do we get there?

This Talanoa was hosted by the Interfaith Liaison Committee to the UNFCCC.  ILC’s purpose is to bring together people of faith who participate in climate justice work, particularly in UNFCCC spaces, to coordinate and act together, and the Talanoa is a key part of ILC’s work each year. ACT Alliance is part of the ILC, along with the WCC, LWF, and a wide range of other organisations.

On December 8, the ILC shared their Call to COP28 with the UNFCCC Secretariat.  The call addresses a range of justice topics within the climate negotiations including intergenerational justice, Indigenous people, gender, climate finance, mitigation and just transition, the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA), loss & damage, the Global Stocktake (GST), human rights, and international food systems & agriculture.

The full call can be found here.

ACT members responding to deadly earthquake in western Afghanistan

A devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake flattened homes and infrastructure in western Afghanistan on October 7, 2023. Photo: ACT member
A devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake flattened homes and infrastructure in western Afghanistan on October 7, 2023. Photo: ACT member

Just before lunchtime on October 7, 2023, a devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake with continuous aftershocks struck Herat province in western Afghanistan, flattening thousands of homes as well as schools and other infrastructure, with over 2000 reported killed and over 12,000 people impacted.  These numbers are expected to rise as some remote areas have not yet been reached by first responders.

Because of the timing of the earthquake, many women and children were in their homes preparing lunch for the families, which led to 2/3 of the affected people being women and children.

ACT members immediately began to respond to the needs in the communities affected, contacting local partners, beginning to do needs assessment and to move relief supplies into the area, including winterized tents, hygiene kits, and other needed items.

Winterized tents like this are being provided by ACT members to affected families after the October 7 earthquake. Photo: ACT member

ACT members also immediately engaged in the complicated coordination with local and national authorities, the UN and other NGOs needed to ensure that aid reaches the communities and families where it is most needed as quickly and effectively as possible. ACT members are planning to provide emergency assistance as soon as possible before the harsh winter hits western Afghanistan.  

ACT members are planning response over the coming year and a half, including the provision of emergency shelter like the winterized tents, blankets, clothes and kitchen supplies, WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), providing hygiene and dignity kits, building latrines and bathing places, providing water purification systems, multi-purpose cash assistance, and protection for people who are more vulnerable now that they have lost their homes. 

In the longer term, ACT members plan to rebuild homes, to provide solar systems to health centres, build community kitchens, and provide lanterns to households impacted by the earthquake and its aftershocks.

For more information about ACT’s response, or to contribute, please contact Waqas Muhammad, Humanitarian Program Officer Asia-Pacific at

ACT Honduras Forum condemns attack on environmental and human rights defender

The ACT Honduras Forum issued a statement condemning the attack on José Ramiro Lara from ASONOG, the Forum Coordinator, on September 15.  Ramiro Lara had been working with a community in the “La Hondura” micro-watershed, denouncing the degradation of the forest which has in turn contributed to a water crisis in the region.  He and his family were targeted and attacked.  Fortunately, they survived the attack.

The Forum is calling on the Honduran government to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators. “We urge the government of Honduras to conduct a thorough investigation into the attack against José Ramiro Lara and to ensure that both the material and intellectual perpetrators are held accountable,” the statement reads.

The full statement in Spanish and English can be found here.

ACT General Secretary brings greetings to the LWF Assembly in Kraków, Poland

ACT General Secretary speaking at the LWF Assembly in Poland. Photo: LWF/Albin Hilert
15 September 2023, Krakow, Poland: ACT Alliance general secretary Rudelmar Bueno de Faria shares greetings as Lutherans from around the globe gather for the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Thirteenth Assembly, held in Krakow, Poland on 13-19 September 2023 under the theme of ’One Body, One Spirit, One Hope’. Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert

Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, ACT Alliance’s General Secretary, is in Kraków, Poland attending the Lutheran World Federation’s  Thirteenth Assembly, which is bringing together 355 official delegates as well as associate members, ecumenical guests, presenters, ex officio members, volunteers and staff under the theme One Body, One Spirit, One Hope.

De Faria addressed the Assembly on September 15, bringing greetings from the ACT Alliance:

I extend my warmest greetings to the esteemed members of the Lutheran World Federation Assembly 2023. As the General Secretary of the ACT Alliance, Action by Churches Together, I convey my heartfelt regards on behalf of our alliance’s entire membership. I wish you wisdom and courage as you engage in these important deliberations. 
It is both a pleasure and an honor for me to participate in the 13th General Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), convened here in the historic city of Kraków, Poland, under the theme “One Body, One Spirit, One Hope.” 
The theme of this Assembly carries profound significance in today’s world. It underscores the imperative of unity and collaboration among diverse churches, individuals, and communities. It also underscores the pressing need to work collectively in addressing global challenges such as social injustice, climate change, and conflict. This theme emphasizes the interconnectedness of humanity, highlighting that a shared sense of purpose and hope can serve as a catalyst for positive change. Ultimately, it encourages us to recognize our common humanity and unite in our efforts to create a more inclusive, just, and sustainable world. 
My connection with the LWF dates back to 1992, during my time in Brazil. In total, I have been engaged with this organization for 31 years, with 18 of those years spent as a dedicated staff member in the Department for World Service. I vividly remember my first attendance at a General Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation in 1997, held in Hong Kong. The issues we contemplate today are markedly different from those of 1997. 
Presently, the world faces escalating polarization in our societies, coupled with the emergence of new anti-rights narratives that challenge the principles underpinning human rights, inclusion, democracy, solidarity, and justice. Ethical and social norms are being reshaped to accommodate ideologies that perpetuate exclusion, prioritize economic systems, and normalize violence as a determinant of societal behavior. Democracy is under threat in many regions, and the convergence of religious, economic, and political fundamentalisms fuels polarization, discrimination, and exclusion in our societies. 
The world grapples with a profound moral and ethical crisis, underscoring the crucial role that churches and faith-based organizations play in addressing its root causes. The Lutheran World Federation, a founding member of the ACT Alliance, has evolved significantly since its inception, firmly establishing its presence in multilateral political arenas by championing human dignity and justice, while recognizing the pivotal role of faith communities and local actors. 
As ACT Alliance, we recognize the urgency of intensifying our efforts in areas such as climate justice, linking it to the importance of humanitarian preparedness, as well as advancing gender justice and tax justice. As champions of justice, unity, and humanitarian endeavors, we celebrate this opportunity to collaborate in our shared commitment to effecting positive change in the world. 
Your integral role within the ACT Alliance amplifies our collective voice for justice, compassion, and transformative action. Together, we can shape a world that truly reflects our shared values. 
May our joint endeavors inspire meaningful change and pave the way for a brighter future for all. I extend my best wishes for a successful and productive Assembly. 

ACT Palestine Forum statement: APF Condemnation of the escalation of violence at Jenin Refugee Camp

The ACT Palestine Forum issued a statement on July 4, 2023, condemning the escalation of violence at the Jenin Refugee Camp which has left at least 8 people dead and 50 injured.  

“We emphasize that the protection of civilians and respect for international humanitarian law should be paramount in any conflict,” the statement reads.  “The excessive use of force against civilians, including children and the elderly is deeply concerning and unacceptable.”

The ACT Palestine forum “call[s] the international community and related parties, including the United Nations, regional and international organizations to react immediately without delay to address the situation and for immediate cessation of hostilities that ensure the safety of all civilians including those living in refugee camps and its surrounding.”

Read the full statement here.

Fatores de Risco e Prevenção de Crimes Atrozes: Reflexões sobre a Visita da Assessora Especial da ONU ao Brasil

English version below

Fatores de Risco e Prevenção de Crimes Atrozes: Reflexões sobre a Visita da Assessora Especial da ONU ao Brasil

Cibele Kuss, Enéias Rosa, Romi Bencke e Marianna Leite

UN Under-Secretary General and Special Adviser on Genocide Prevention, Alice Wairimu Nderitu talking with Brazillians about the situation in their country.
UN Under-Secretary General and Special Adviser on Genocide Prevention, Alice Wairimu Nderitu (left) and Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, general secretary of ACT Alliance speaking with Romi Bencke from CONIC/FEACT and Mãe Bahiana, a faith leader of a terreiro in Brasília. Photo: Marianna Leite/ACT


Em 2020, o Fórum Ecumenico ACT Brasil (FEACT) foram convidados pela Secretaria Geral de ACT Alliance para um diálogo com a Subsecretária Geral da ONU e Assessora Especial em Prevenção ao Genocídio, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, sobre os fatores de risco e grave contexto de violações de direitos humanos no Brasil. A seguir, foi apresentada uma nota técnica elaborada pelo Fórum com apresentação de casos emblemáticos de violências contra os povos indígenas no Rio Grande do Sul e Mato Grosso do Sul, chacinas contra a juventude negra no Rio de Janeiro, casos de violências contra as mulheres e povos de terreiro afetados pelo fundamentalismo religioso.

Em abril de  2022, com assessoria do Escritório das Nações Unidas, coordenadas pelo Fórum e pela Articulação para o Monitoramento dos Direitos Humanos no Brasil (AMDH), foram realizadas duas oficinas sobre fatores de risco e prevenção ao genocídio, uma no Pará e outra no Rio de Janeiro, que contou com a participação de mais de 60 organizações e coletivos da sociedade civil, indicando nos relatórios o pedido para uma visita ao Brasil da assessora especial em 2023.

A Visita e o Papel da Sociedade Civil: 

Além dessas oficinas, durante a 51º de Sessão do Conselho de Direitos Humanos da ONU, a ACT Alliance e o escritório da assessora especial – UN OSAPG – realizaram um evento paralelo sobre a prevenção de crimes atrozes no Brasil. A assessora especial fez o discurso de abertura deste evento. As atividades contribuíram para colocar o tema em pauta e identificar as fragilidades e ausências de políticas públicas capazes de prevenir genocídios e crimes contra a humanidade no Brasil.

As organizações e movimentos envolvidos se apropriaram do “Mecanismo” de Prevenção do Genocídio e Responsabilidade de Proteger e reforçaram a urgência da visita do Escritório de Prevenção do Genocídio e Responsabilidade de Proteger em 2023. Como consequência, em virtude do convite do governo do Brasil, através do Ministério de Direitos Humanos e Cidadania, o Secretariado da ACT Alliance, o FEACT e a AMDH tiveram a honra de articular a co-coordenação do componente da sociedade civil durante a visita oficial da assessora especial ao país entre 1 e 12 de maio de 2023. A visita começou com uma consulta a representantes de organizações estratégicas da sociedade civil em Brasília, no dia 2 de maio, que procurou focar na questão da confluência de fundamentalismos e discursos de ódio como impulsionadores dos fatores de risco.

Avaliação da Sociedade Civil sobre os Ganhos para a Situação dos Povos Indígenas:

No dia 8 de maio, a assessora especial se reuniu em Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, com cerca de 80 representantes de ao menos 36 organizações da sociedade civil e organizações indígenas. Entre elas, representante dos povos Kaiowá, Ñandeva, Chiquitano, Karipuna e Ava-Guarani, quilombola, organizações de direitos humanos e religiosas. Também fizeram parte representantes do Ministério Público Federal, a Defensoria Pública da União e do Estado, representantes de juízes e universidades.

Todos tinham em comum dar consciência à assessora especial da gravidade da situação dos povos indígenas, em especial os que vivem fora da Amazônia, e particularmente relatar os crimes contra a humanidade perpetrados contra os Ñandeva e os Kaiowá no Mato Grosso do Sul. A maior parte destes representantes apresentaram desde sua atuação, análises sobre as múltiplas violências que atingem estes povos e os motivos e dados, pelos quais são submetidos a uma violência sistêmica, sistemática e intencional. Demonstrando que tal situação tem por causa principal à falta de acesso destes povos aos seus territórios tradicionais e toda desumanidade que decorre desta situação. Como assassinatos, suicídios, criminalização, mortalidade infantil, violência contra as mulheres, racismo entre outras violações.

Avaliação da Sociedade Civil sobre os Ganhos para a Situação de Pessoas Afrodescendentes: 

No Rio de Janeiro, Alice Wairimu Nderitu encontrou mães e familiares de vítimas de violência institucional. Um grande contingente de mulheres negras, moradoras de favelas, que vivem um luto perpétuo e buscam justiça, memória e reparação para seus filhos, maridos, irmãos vítimas de homicídios decorrentes de intervenção policial. Vale lembrar que, apenas em 2022, as polícias do Rio de Janeiro mataram 1.327 pessoas, isso representa 29,7% de todas as mortes violentas do estado. Uma verdadeira epidemia e a face mais escancarada do genocídio negro. Em 2021, 87,3% dos mortos pela polícia no Rio eram negros.

Na ocasião, a assessora especial também ouviu comunidades de terreiros, coletivos de favelas, organizações religiosas e de direitos humanos. As intervenções desvelaram o racismo institucional, especialmente contra as pessoas negras, e as várias formas que o Estado brasileiro utiliza para eliminar sua população não-branca, que se manifesta através da violência contra os corpos negros e uma cidadania incompleta, através da negação de direitos básicos. 

Propostas de Encaminhamentos:

Ao final da visita, houve uma roda de imprensa e a publicação de uma forte declaração da assessora especial sobre a conclusão de visita ao Brasil. A declaração já especifica recomendações para o governo e para a sociedade civil como, por exemplo, a garantia de investimento para FUNAI, novas medidas de apoio aos povos indígenas e afrodescendentes aprimoradas, contínuas e sustentáveis e o combate independente e imparcial à impunidade, principalmente entre as forças de segurança que cometeram graves violações contra indígenas e afrodescendentes brasileiros. 

A ACT Alliance, o FEACT e a AMDH notam uma enorme gratidão ao engajamento humano e intenso da assessora especial durante a visita, à equipe do UN OSAPG e ONU Brasil, ao Ministério de Direitos Humanos e Cidadania por facilitar a visita oficial bem como todos os outros atores estatais envolvidos e aos movimentos sociais e organizações de sociedade civil que organizaram e/or participaram das atividades. Diante de nossa avaliação interna, destacamos o seguinte: 

  • O desejo de coordenar um evento perante a 53 sessão do Conselho de Direitos Humanos para maximizar o diálogo entre a assessora especial, o governo e sociedade civil sobre fatores de risco.  
  • A importância de incidir junto ao Conselho de Segurança da ONU sobre fatores de risco para com base na lições oferecidas pelo contexto do Brasil.
  • Estabelecer diálogos de incidência com base na cultura do ódio tendo com base no manual voltado para os líderes religiosos à nível global, regional e local
  • A criação de um processo para aprofundamento dos fatores de risco do UN OSAPG sobre a perspectiva de gênero.
  • Aprofundar a proposta de reunir “mães de chacinados” do Brasil com outras mães e outras parcerias de outros contextos/países.

Para mais informações:

Marianna Leite, Gerente Global de Incidência e Política da ACT Alliance, 

Algumas notícias relacionadas:

Declaração da sub-secretária-geral, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, sobre a conclusão de visita ao Brasil | As Nações Unidas no Brasil 

Organizações Indígenas recebem assessora especial da ONU para Prevenção do Genocídio e denunciam crise humanitária na TI Yanomami | Cimi 

A ONU e a hora de proteger os Guarani e Kaiowá – Estadão (



Risk Factors and Prevention of Atrocious Crimes: Reflections on the Visit of the UN Special Adviser to Brazil

Cibele Kuss, Enéias Rosa, Romi Bencke and Marianna Leite


In 2020, the Ecumenical Forum ACT Brazil (FEACT) was invited by the Secretariat of ACT Alliance for a dialogue with the UN Under-Secretary General and Special Adviser on Genocide Prevention, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, on the risk factors and serious context of violations of human rights in Brazil. Subsequent to that, a technical note prepared by the Forum was presented with the reference to emblematic cases of violence against indigenous peoples in Rio Grande do Sul and Mato Grosso do Sul, massacres against black youth in Rio de Janeiro, cases of violence against women and terreiro peoples affected by religious fundamentalism.

In April 2022, with advice from the United Nations Office, coordinated by the Forum and by the Articulation for the Monitoring of Human Rights in Brazil (AMDH), two workshops were held on risk factors and prevention of genocide, one in Pará and the other in Rio de Janeiro, which had the participation of more than 60 civil society organizations and collectives, indicating in the reports the request for a visit to Brazil by the special advisor in 2023.

The Visit and the Role of Civil Society:

In addition to these workshops, during the 51st Session of the UN Human Rights Council, the ACT Alliance and the office of the special advisor – UN OSAPG – held a side event on the prevention of atrocity crimes in Brazil. The special advisor gave the opening speech at this event. The activities contributed to putting the topic on the agenda and identifying the weaknesses and absences of public policies capable of preventing genocides and crimes against humanity in Brazil.

The organizations and movements involved took ownership of the “Mechanism” for Genocide Prevention and Responsibility to Protect and reinforced the urgency of the visit of the Office for Genocide Prevention and Responsibility to Protect in 2023. After the official invitation by the government, through the Ministry of Human Rights and Citizenship, the ACT Alliance Secretariat, FEACT and AMDH were honored to articulate the co-coordination of the civil society component during the official visit of the special advisor to the country, between May 1st and 12th, 2023. The visit began with a consultation with representatives of strategic civil society organizations in Brasilia, on May 2, which sought to focus on the issue of the confluence of fundamentalisms and hate speech as drivers of risk factors.

Civil Society Assessment of Gains for the Status of Indigenous Peoples:

On May 8, the special advisor met in Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, with around 80 representatives from at least 36 civil society organizations and indigenous organizations. Among them were representatives of the Kaiowá, Ñandeva, Chiquitano, Karipuna and Ava-Guarani peoples, quilombola, human rights and religious organizations. There were also representatives of the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office of the Union and the State, representatives from the association of judges and from universities also took part.

They all had in common the intent of making the special advisor aware of the seriousness of the situation of indigenous peoples, especially those who live outside the Amazon, and particularly reporting on the crimes against humanity perpetrated against the Ñandeva and Kaiowá in Mato Grosso do Sul. Most of these representatives presented data and analyses related the multiple violences that these peoples are subjected to, which are systemic, systematic and intentional. The idea was to demonstrate that this situation is mainly due to the lack of access of these peoples to their traditional territories and all the inhumanity that results from this situation. Some examples included murders, suicides, criminalization, infant mortality, violence against women, and racism, among other violations.

Civil Society Assessment of Gains for the Situation of People of African Descent:

In Rio de Janeiro, Alice Wairimu Nderitu met mothers and relatives of victims of institutional violence. A large contingent of Afro-descendent women, residents of favelas, who live in perpetual mourning and seek justice, memory and reparation for their children, husbands, brothers, victims of homicides resulting from police intervention. It is worth remembering that, in 2022 alone, the police in Rio de Janeiro killed 1,327 people, which represents 29.7% of all violent deaths in the state. A true epidemic and the most open face of black genocide. In 2021, 87.3% of those killed by the police in Rio were black.

The interventions revealed institutional racism, especially against Afro-descendents, and the various methods that the Brazilian State uses to eliminate its non-white population, which manifests itself through violence against black bodies and incomplete citizenship, and through the denial of basic rights.

Proposals for Next Steps:

At the end of the visit, there was a press conference and the publication of a strong statement by the special advisor on the conclusion of the visit to Brazil. The declaration already specifies recommendations for the government and civil society such as, for example, the guarantee of investment for FUNAI, new measures to support indigenous peoples and people of African descent that are improved, continuous and sustainable, and the independent and impartial fight against impunity, mainly among the security forces that committed serious violations against Brazilian indigenous and Afro-descendant people.

The ACT Alliance, FEACT and AMDH note our enormous gratitude for the human and intense engagement of the special advisor during the visit, the UN OSAPG and UN Brazil team, the Ministry of Human Rights and Citizenship for facilitating the official visit as well as all the other state actors involved and the social movements and civil society organizations that organized and/or participated in the activities. In view of our internal assessment, we highlight the following:

  • The desire to coordinate an event before the 53rd session of the Human Rights Council to maximize the dialogue between the special advisor, the government and civil society on risk factors.
  • The importance of influencing the UN Security Council on risk factors based on the lessons offered by the context of Brazil.
  • The need to establish advocacy dialogues related to  the culture of hate speech based on the handbook aimed at religious leaders at global, regional and local levels.
  • The creation of a process for deepening the risk factors of the UN OSAPG on the gender perspective.
  • The need to deepen the proposal to bring together the ‘mothers of victims of slaughters’ of Brazil with other mothers and partnerships from other contexts/countries.

For more information:

Marianna Leite, Gerente Global de Incidência e Política da ACT Alliance,

Some related news:

Declaração da sub-secretária-geral, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, sobre a conclusão de visita ao Brasil | As Nações Unidas no Brasil 

Organizações Indígenas recebem assessora especial da ONU para Prevenção do Genocídio e denunciam crise humanitária na TI Yanomami | Cimi 

A ONU e a hora de proteger os Guarani e Kaiowá – Estadão (

During solidarity visit to Türkiye, ACT and WCC witness great needs yet great collaboration: “the churches are all working together”

Visiting communities in southern Türkiye from 4-6 April 2023, the delegation met with churches in Mersin, Iskenderun, and Antioch, including communities in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, Latin Catholics and others.

After returning from a solidarity visit to Türkiye, World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay and ACT Alliance general secretary Rudelmar Bueno de Faria appear in a video interview speaking about what they saw, how churches are working together, and their unique reflections on their visit—held 4-6 April—took place during western Holy Week.

Accompanied by Laki Vingas, archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and former elected representative of minority foundations in Türkiye, they visited Mersin, Iskenderun, and Antioch.

“The WCC and ACT Alliance’s presence in these particular places indicate that we care, we are concerned about what has taken place, and we want to find out how we can actually be of assistance,” said Pillay. “I might also stress that it was important for us to do this together.”

Both Pillay and Bueno de Faria said that they were very sad to see the devastation and damage left by the quake, which killed over 45,000 people in Türkiye alone. There is grave need related to the lack of food, water, and healthcare, and many first responders continue to work under extremely aggravated circumstances.

“What stood out to me first was the powerful impact of the earthquake on the infrastructure and the life of the people,” said Bueno de Faria, who is a survivor of earthquakes in Central America in 2001. “Comparing what I saw in Türkiye, it was shocking to see what people faced and the stories about how people were affected directly or indirectly and also communities as a whole.”

Watch the full interview

Bueno de Faria said that ACT Alliance is responding to the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable both in Türkiye and Syria through ACT’s appeal, which has raised almost $8.5M to date.  Churches play a vital role in humanitarian response as they are integrated in the communities, able to provide key needs assessment data to responders, and  food, shelter, cash assistance, psychosocial support, and much more direct aid to affected families.

Pillay and Bueno de Faria met many people with uncertain futures and are concerned—particularly in Antioch—that people will not return, and the historic city will lose its lively Christian presence.

“Much time and effort is going to be put into the reconstruction of people’s homes and churches and buildings, and so forth,” assured Pillay. “One of the great things happening at the moment, from what we have seen, is the great ecumenical collaboration. The churches are all working together.”

Being in Türkiye during Holy Week was an important time for reflection, Pillay concluded.

“I could reflect on the suffering of Jesus and then reflect on the suffering of people who have been displaced from their homes and their livelihoods, and where the earthquake has robbed them of their continuity of life,” he said.

ACT Syria appeal 2023

“ACT Alliance, WCC delegation on solidarity visit to Türkiye” (ACT/WCC news release 6 April 2023)

More photos of the solidarity visit

ACT Alliance, WCC delegation on solidarity visit to Türkiye

The general secretaries of ACT Alliance and WCC visiting the site of a collapsed building in southern Türkiye.
Visiting communities in southern Türkiye from 4-6 April 2023, the delegation met with churches in Mersin, Iskenderun, and Antioch, including communities in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, Latin Catholics and others. Photo: WCC/ACT

A delegation from the World Council of Churches and ACT Alliance is visiting Türkiye this week, expressing solidarity and support for churches on the ground responding to grave needs in the wake of the 6 February earthquake.

Visiting communities in southern Türkiye from 4-6 April, the delegation met with churches in Mersin, Iskenderun, and Antioch, including communities in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, Latin Catholics and others.

“The visit is tremendously symbolic during western Holy Week, and during the last week of Great Lent in the eastern calendar,” said WCC general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay. “It is really sad to see the devastation and damage brought about by the earthquake in Türkiye. Apart from the destruction of buildings, homes, properties and churches are the emotional and psychological scars endured by many people who have lost loved ones and almost everything.”

Pillay said: “We visited Mersin, Iskenderun, and Antioch. I was deeply broken to see most of Antioch totally destroyed and now very empty. Church leaders are very concerned about the diminishing numbers of Christians in Türkiye and now whether Christians will return to this land that has so much of biblical history.” He added “We pray that they would be able to continue to sustain a lively Christian presence in this very historic city.”

“The greatest need right now is to provide housing for the displaced people and funding to rebuild the destroyed cities,” underlined Pillay. “The churches are trying to build temporary houses for people and seek assistance.”

In the wake of the earthquake, there is grave need related to the lack of food, water, and healthcare, and many first responders continue to work under extremely aggravated circumstances.

The quake in Türkiye and Syria caused enormous destruction in terms of both lives and property: in Türkiye alone, 45 thousand people died under the over 230,000 collapsed buildings, 1.7 million were forced into tents, nearly 3 million were made homeless, and the livelihoods of some 9 million people were severely affected.

ACT Alliance general secretary Rudelmar Bueno de Faria said: “In the aftermath of the earthquake, churches did what they have always done—opened their doors, their hearts, and their hands to help their neighbours who were affected by this tragic event.”

Bueno de Faria added, “During this visit, we have seen the commitment of the churches to this work, to continuing to serve those impacted by the earthquake in the spirit of ecumenical diakonia.”  He concluded, “The need of international financial support is critical, as the reconstruction will take time and will be costly.”

ACT Alliance partners and many other churches across the world have raised funds and sent humanitarian experts to conduct assessments and prepare relief, many closely cooperating with local partner organizations in the region.

According to an ACT Alliance situation report, the priority needs of earthquake-affected people are rehabilitation and repair of damaged homes, mental health and psychosocial support, food assistance, hygiene and dignity kits, shelter, water, sanitation, food, and cash assistance.

Many children continue to exhibit signs of distress, and there remains a significant need for psychosocial support services, recreational activities, child-friendly spaces, medical aid, and services for people with disabilities and the elderly.

Pillay concluded, “We encourage the WCC members and others to offer continued prayers and support for the people in Türkiye and other parts of the world affected by earthquakes and disasters. During this time of Easter, we are reminded that the suffering servant is with the suffering people of God on earth. May the Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, give us hope and peace in these troubled and difficult times. In Christ is our hope!”

The WCC-ACT delegation is comprised of Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay, general secretary, World Council of Churches; Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, general secretary, ACT Alliance; and Laki Vingas, archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and former elected representative of minority foundations in Türkiye.

More photos from the trip can be found here.

ACT’s revised Syria 2023 appeal, which includes the earthquake response, can be found here

The WCC’s article on the appeal can be found here.

Ukraine: one year later

One year ago today Russia invaded Ukraine and unleashed a horrific humanitarian crisis that is still having a heavy toll on the civilian populations of Ukraine. The international conflict forced millions of women, men, girls and boys to run for their lives and seek refuge in neighbouring countries or become internally displaced.

Freezing temperatures, fear and atrocious attacks on civilian infrastructures is what Ukrainian families had to face daily since the beginning of the hostilities. But they have not been left alone.

The international humanitarian community mobilised immediatelyACT Alliance members worked together to bring the so much-needed practical, psychological and spiritual support to the millions of people who had lost everything so abruptly. 

An appeal was launched almost immediately and since then we have been at the forefront of humanitarian aid. The extraordinary courage of the Ukrainian people and their resilience is heartwarming but what is also heartwarming is the courage of all the humanitarian workers who delivered and are still delivering aid and hope. 

Millions of Ukrainian refugees have been helped, consoled and welcomed everywhere. The way we moved into action together is  uplifting. However, we must not forget that many are the crises that are unfolding globally and we should find the courage and resources to mobilise as fast and as strongly as we did in Ukraine.

It is possible and it is necessary.

We have produced a report that summarises all the efforts made to protect and support Ukrainian civilians in the past year. You can download this report below. ACT Alliance is grateful to its members who have been investing their skills, staff, resources and time in helping humanity.

We truly are Hope in Action!