Government pledges to unite with poverty campaigners

Calls from the Government for the whole of society to halt global poverty are being hailed a major triumph by Micah Challenge UK.

Calls from the Government for the whole of society to halt global poverty are being hailed a major triumph by Micah Challenge UK.

|PIC1|Micah Challenge UK is part of a global movement of Christians, churches and Christian organisations united in its aim of campaigning for governments to work to alleviate poverty.

On Micah Sunday, which was held on 14 October, churches across the country held poverty-themed services as well as urging congregants to further increase pressure on the Government for action.

Micah Challenge leaders have spoken of the encouragement received from a Department for International Development (DFID) statement released following Micah Sunday, which recognised the efforts of global poverty campaigners and called on people from all walks of life to respond to this most urgent of causes.

The statement read: "What we need now is an international effort that harnesses the power of everyone: the private sector, individuals, consumers, faith groups, cities, civil society organisations, as well as governments, north and south, to work together to achieve the Millennium Development Goals."

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a set of eight targets for tackling global poverty by 2015. DFID said it was "proud of the progress that has been made" but recognised that the world still faced "a development emergency" if it was to meet the MDGs.

It stated: "That is one of the reasons why we, on behalf of the UK Government, welcome the actions of millions of people around the world this week to show their commitment to achieving the MDGs."

Earlier in the year Micah Challenge supporters sent almost 25,000 postcards to the Prime Minister calling for the Government to address global poverty as part of its Blow the Whistle campaign. The campaign aimed to "blow the whistle at half time" during the summer of 2007, which marked the halfway point to the deadline for the MDGs.

Andy Clasper, Micah Challenge UK executive director, said: "The church is one of the most truly international organisations in the world. This means we feel keenly the current injustice of global poverty and the urgency of this development emergency.

"Churches up and down the country have marked Micah Sunday this week, demonstrating their commitment to addressing the needs of the world's poor. It is encouraging to see the Government responding to these and other campaigning actions being taken this week and recognising the urgency of this issue. This statement shows that campaigning does make a difference to the Government and is an encouragement to Christians everywhere to get involved in campaigning.

"We are encouraged by the Government's use of the word 'emergency' because with millions around the world dying each year in poverty, that's exactly what this is."

Clasper added he now wanted to see the Government translate its promises to the poor into a series of concrete, specific actions and use its international influence to gain matching responses from other nations.

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