Central Asia and the Caucasus
Stretching from the Black Sea in the west to the Chinese border in the east, Central Asia and the Caucasus primarily comprises of at least half the southern states that gained independence from the former Soviet Union in the early 1990’s. A generation later, whilst a few of these “new nations” are benefitting from oil exports, others – the “bread based” economies – are suffering from up to 20% annual inflation, with half of their populations living below the national poverty line. With increasing issues relating to the supply of water and electricity, endemic corruption, negative trends in democracy and political and religious freedom, and rising food prices, extreme poverty has made the region easy prey for human traffickers and drug-runners.
Samaritans Purse UK has been involved in Central Asia and the Caucasus since 2002, mainly through Operation Christmas Child and the sending of short-term teams from the UK. These teams have worked with governments, local churches and other civil society partners to build high quality play-parks, and host soccer coaching schools and summer camps for marginalised children. Operation Christmas Child and carefully selected short-term “Discovery Teams” continue to operate in Central Asia and the Caucasus. In addition to these programmes, Samaritans Purse works with local churches, training and equipping them to reach out to their local communities and meet the needs of those around them, together with others in their locality.