At presstime some Lutherans were concerned about whether funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) would arrive for Augusta Victoria, a Lutheran-run hospital on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
The funding would cover costs of patient referrals from the Palestinian National Authority to Augusta Victoria, particularly among patients seeking cancer treatment and kidney dialysis.
“Unfortunately, the funding from USAID is held up, and we don’t know when it will arrive or, perhaps, if it will arrive,” said Robert Smith, ELCA program director for the Middle East and North Africa. “Advocacy is important.”
Mark Brown, the Lutheran World Federation’s regional representative in Jerusalem, asked for ELCA congregations and members to “encourage members of U.S. Congress [and] the U.S. Department of State and USAID to ensure that Augusta Victoria Hospital and other East Jerusalem hospitals quickly receive the funding they need.
“Advocating for the most vulnerable in society, insisting on uninterrupted financial support for life-saving medical treatment — despite the starts and stops of the peace process — is a compassionate, generous and faithful response to this crisis.”
In a Feb. 4 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton requested that the U.S. government allocate a portion of its bilateral support to the Palestinian National Authority for paying its debt to Augusta Victoria. The debt arose from unpaid treatments in 2013 for patients referred by the authority to the hospital.
While the hospital is “operating in the black,” she wrote, its critical medical services are “threatened by an acute financial crisis caused by the accumulated debt from the Palestinian National Authority.”
Eaton’s letter to Kerry was in response to a request from LWF General Secretary Martin Junge, who asked communion leaders to take up the situation regarding the hospital “with your respective governments.”
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