Daleep Mukarji: Christian Aid performs a service that government must support

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The Independent Online

This week one of the largest community fundraising events in the UK takes place. Thirteeen million red envelopes are being distributed, and by Sunday 300,000 volunteers will have taken to the streets to raise money for Christian Aid.

Launched more than half a century ago, Christian Aid Week helps pay for our work in battling poverty in nearly 50 countries. Last year around £14.7m was raised. This year we will be looking to raise even more. We need to, for the sad truth is that in recent months, the plunging value of the pound has cost us virtually every penny raised in 2008 and more. Given the gravity of today's economic crisis, not just for us, but for other major development charities too, there is a compelling need for central government to give a hand.

We are grateful that the provision for aid emerged unscathed from the recent Budget. It's a matter of regret, though, that while the Chancellor was able to announce that money was available to help domestic charities, he seemed to ignore the needs of those engaged in international work.

Put simply, those charities belonging to the British Overseas Aid Group – Christian Aid, ActionAid, CAFOD, Oxfam and Save the Children, are international leaders in the fields of humanitarian relief and long-term development. There is no other group of charities in any country that is as well known and as well organised. The British public and the British government need to recognise the role we play in influencing the international community on behalf of poorer countries and poor people.

They have got to come to terms with our value. We play an important role in providing humanitarian assistance. We also, through our human rights work, build up civil society and accountable governance in many parts of the world where the UK government is constrained from that kind of intervention.

This recession is very real for our supporters and the organisation. But its impact is particularly hard hitting in developing countries where some 1.2bn people were already living in poverty before it began. That number is now growing. That is where need is greatest.

Dr Daleep Mukarji is director of Christian Aid. Details of Christian Aid Week events are at www.caweek.org. Donations can be made online