Saturday, 8 August 2009

Beware of the UNFPA's overtures: Urgent appeal to world's religious leaders

This blogpost is an urgent appeal to religious leaders of all denominations to beware of the obviously dangerous overtures being made to them by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and its executive director, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid - and my thanks to the ever-vigilant Marie S. Smith, Director of Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues for drawing this development to my attention.

Earlier this week, like King Herod telling the three wise men that he wanted to worship the child Jesus, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid (foreground, right) told a "round table" group of faith-based organizations, that the UNFPA was aware of "the profound moral authority that religious leaders have" and of "the fact that religious organizations are the older social service providers humankind has known".

Ms Obaid went on to speak about how between 30 and 60 per cent of basic healthcare services in the developing world are provided by religous organization, according to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), "while the World Bank has found that in some instances, health and education services offered by the religious organizations are better than those of governments".

According to Ms Obaid, areas "ripe for cooperation" between UNFPA and religous groups "include HIV/AIDS, women’s empowerment, maternal health, migration, humanitarian relief, reproductive health and gender-based violence".

I must point that that is the very same Thoraya Ahmed Obaid who in 2001, as the new executive director of UNFPA, said that in the previous twenty years, China had seen notable achievements made in population control by implementing the family planning policy: the notorious, well-documented, forced abortion policy in which UNFPA has been deeply involved for over thirty years.

This is the same UNFPA which ten months ago signed a memorandum of understand with Islamic Relief in order to work together to ensure that "more women and men have access to reproductive healthcare information and services, including during times of emergency … " – which entails the promotion of abortion on demand, even in the desperately unsafe environment of refugee camps.

This is the same UNFPA which in 1979, the very year that China introduced its brutal one-child policy, signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" with the Chinese government.

This is the same UNFPA which in 1983, the year commonly regarded as the worst year for coercion, gave one of its first two Population Awards to the minister-in-charge of China’s State Family Planning Commission. (The other award that year was given to Indira Gandhi, the Indian prime minister, whose government enforced compulsory birth control including sterilisation.)

This is the same UNFPA which in 1991, under its then executive director, Nafis Sadik, said: "China has every reason to feel proud of and pleased with its remarkable achievements made in its family planning policy and control of its population growth.” (Xinhua, 11 April 1991)

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