Religious discourse has long been characterised by a concern for the immediate welfare of humankind, and faith-based organization play an important role in mobilizing the support of millions of people for whom religious values underpin their concern for their neighbours in the global village. Faith-based organizations can play a particular role where overt conflicts or less overt inter-group grievances are exacerbated by religious tensions, especially in bridging social or political divides with distinct religious dimensions.
Many humanitarian actors, defend their religious neutrality claiming that they can gain better access and offer unconditional help to people in need whoever and wherever they are. On the other hand, a majority of faith-based organizations do not see any incompatibility between their actions and the humanitarian principles of neutrality and impartiality. They highlight that they provide humanitarian assistance without proselytizing to those in need and regardless of their faith and that they can gain better access in certain contexts.
Following the Symposium on “Religions Together for Humanitarian Action,” hosted by the Order of Malta in Geneva, the International Association of Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection (PHAP) will host a live online consultation in support of the World Humanitarian Summit focusing on the challenges and opportunities faced by faith-based humanitarian organizations and how we can overcome the obstacles hindering faith-based and other organizations from working more closely together.
The event focused on the following questions:
- What are the particular challenges that faith-based humanitarian organizations face in their work?
- Do faith-based organizations have a unique role to play in humanitarian action?
- What are the main obstacles hindering faith-based and other organizations from working more closely together?
- In general, is the way that religion is handled in humanitarian action currently appropriate?