The Kirk praised for helping tackle poverty and inequality by Christian Aid

'Poverty is an avoidable scandal' fuelled by civil war, ­climate change and gender inequalities, the head of an international church development agency has said.

In a hard-hitting speech Loretta Minghella, OBE, chief executive of Christian Aid, told the 2017 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh yesterday she shared the Kirk’s belief that “poverty robs people of their dignity and diminishes us”.

Describing the human tragedy she had witnessed in the civil war in South Sudan and referring to the 65 million people displaced by conflicts worldwide, she said: “Somehow a narrative has taken told in our nations that we cannot afford to worry about these people, refugees and other displace people because they are ‘not our own’.”

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Ms Minghella then highlighted the work of the Scottish Faiths Action Group convened by the Kirk.

She said the massive typhoon which hit the Philippines in 2013 had shown how climate change “hits those who least to do with it first, and hardest”.

And she told delegates the Kirk and her agency were working together on projects helping tackle climate change.

“I’m excited by the work we’ve done together in Malawi. Last summer, when the country suffered its worst drought in a decade, your generous response to our Scotland-Malawi appeal, match-funded by the Scottish Government not only fed people but also fed the future with an innovative project using solar irrigation systems so they can harvest all year round.

“Ours is a transformational partnership.”

The Kirk is also in discussion about divesting its investments from fossil fuels.

Ms Minghella added: “The other driver of poverty is gender. Everywhere I go across the 40 countries in which we work I see this stark truth: That women and girls are much more likely to be poor, to die young and be a victim of sexual violence and less likely to finish school, be given a job or political voice or opportunities to lead.

“Empowering our women and men to speak up for gender justice is key to changing a world which excludes women from the centre.”

Responding, the Right Rev Dr Derek Browning, Moderator, said: “Through your work with Christian Aid you enable thousands of people to have an impact for good across our globe.

“We thank you for that work … and wish you and Christian Aid our best wishes and prayers for the challenging times ahead.”