March 24, 2010
Baltimore, Md. (IOCC) — International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) has joined the ACT Alliance, one of the world's largest humanitarian bodies, which officially launches March 24.
With more than 100 members globally, the ACT Alliance works in 125 countries with a combined operating budget of approximately $1.5 billion. The new alliance of churches and church-based humanitarian groups combines and builds on the former ACT International and its longtime disaster relief and rehabilitation focus, and the former ACT Development and its sustainable development focus. In addition, the ACT Alliance will also be involved in advocacy work.
Alliance members retain their individual identities while continuing to work collaboratively. In Haiti, for example, nine ACT members already in Haiti prior to the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake immediately began a collaborative effort to respond to the emergency. Six weeks later, ACT members were able to respond in a similar way to the earthquake in Chile.
"The work of International Orthodox Christian Charities is strengthened by the mutual support and solidarity expressed through work together with other ACT Alliance members as a strong global network of church-based humanitarian groups," said IOCC Executive Director and CEO Constantine Triantafilou.
The March 24 launch is being marked with celebrations and commemorations on every continent where ACT members work and are based. In the United States, ACT members are commemorating the day in separate events within each agency.
"Coordination through the ACT Alliance allows for greater effectiveness and efficiency as we carry out our work to serve people in need," said Mark Ohanian, who coordinates international response programs for IOCC. "This is an important network whose members, like IOCC, have close relationships to people in communities where they operate and can provide effective assistance while respecting the dignity and uniqueness of those they serve."
The creation of an alliance of church-based organizations means ACT's humanitarian and development work will reach every corner of the globe, said ACT Alliance General Secretary John Nduna, because churches and church-based groups are already making "an impact on the lives of the poorest in societies around the world."
"The membership of the ACT Alliance is wide," he said. "We find ACT members in every part of the world. ACT members are grounded in local civil society of all parts of the world. Almost everywhere we have churches, we have ACT."
The coordinating offices of ACT Alliance are in Geneva, Switzerland. ACT Alliance's predecessor that responded to emergencies, ACT International, was established in 1995. A continuing theme for ACT International and ACT Alliance has been their members' strong local roots, which enable the alliance to provide locally based knowledge, analysis and understanding of emergencies and disasters, as well as development.
As of March, the current U.S. members of ACT Alliance are Church World Service, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, International Orthodox Christian Charities, Lutheran World Relief and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.
IOCC is the official humanitarian aid agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA).