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The European Journal of Development Research

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 510–528 | Cite as

Trans-faith Humanitarian Partnerships: The Case of Muslim Aid and the United Methodist Committee on Relief

  • Gerard Clarke
Original Article

Abstract

Amid tentative recognition of the work of faith-based organisations in responding to humanitarian crises, I examine a novel inter-faith partnership between Muslim Aid, the United Kingdom's second largest Islamic humanitarian agency, and the US-based United Methodist Committee on Relief, the official humanitarian agency of the United Methodist Church. In doing so, I look at why there are so few partnerships among Christian and Islamic humanitarian organisations, given the culturally plural circumstances in which humanitarian crises usually occur, and at what the case study here reveals about the necessary prerequisites for such partnerships. On the basis of ethnographic methods, including interviews, focus group discussions and participant observation, I examine the origins of the partnership in August 2006 amid Sri Lanka's civil war, and its subsequent development up to September 2008. Rather than trumpeting the partnership's successes, I emphasise its novel nature and the significant precedent that it represents.

Dans un contexte où le rôle des organisations religieuses dans la gestion des crises humanitaires est timidement reconnu, cet article examine l’association inter-confessionnelle entre Muslim Aid (Aide musulmane), la deuxième plus grande agence humanitaire musulmane au Royaume Uni, et le United Methodist Committee on Relief (Śuvre d’entraide et de secours Méthodiste) basée aux États-Unis et qui est l’agence humanitaire officielle de l’Église Méthodiste Unie. Il tente de déterminer les raisons pour lesquelles il existe si peu de partenariats entre les organisations humanitaires chrétiennes et musulmanes, compte tenu des circonstances multi-culturelles dans lesquelles se produisent généralement les crises humanitaires, et cherche à identifier ce que révèle cet étude de cas particulier concernant les conditions préalables aux développement de tels partenariats. À travers des entretiens, des réunions de groupe et une observation participative, l’article explore les origines de ce partenariat entre Muslim Aid et UMCOR, qui a vu le jour en 2006 pendant la guerre civile du Sri Lanka, ainsi que l’évolution, jusqu’en 2008, de cette alliance. Plutôt que de claironner les succès de cette association, le caractère original et le précédent important qu’elle constitue est souligné.

Keywords

faith-based organisations Islamic Christian partnerships humanitarian crises Sri Lanka 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I am grateful to the Commonwealth Foundation for funding this research, to Susannah Pickering, Guy Hovey and Amjad Saleem for their generous help, to Pippa Gardner for research assistance, and to two anonymous referees for their constructive advice.

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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerard Clarke
    • 1
  1. 1.Swansea UniversitySwansea

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