The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will provide $100,000 in humanitarian assistance to Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem to help support the operation of the healthcare system in the midst of the current violence in the Middle East. The funds will be disbursed through Lutheran Disaster Response to The Lutheran World Federation (LWF).
The hospital, located on the Mount of Olives, is a program of LWF, a global communion of 144 churches representing more than 72 million Christians in 79 countries. The ELCA is the communion's only member church from the United States.
“The Augusta Victoria Hospital is providing relief assistance to the people in Gaza through medical teams going into the (Gaza) Strip and by opening its facilities on the Mount of Olives for the treatment of severely injured people, in addition to (providing) psychosocial support to hundreds affected by violence and warfare,” said the Rev. Rafael Malpica, executive director for ELCA global mission. The ELCA provides annual financial support to Augusta Victoria Hospital.
The relief funds will help provide needed medical, nursing and para-medical specialties through teams of between five and 12 professionals in Gaza for 10 days, medications and supplies for cancer patients who can be treated in Gaza, and psychosocial support to cancer patients and families who have been evacuated from Gaza and are receiving treatment at Augusta Victoria Hospital.
The hospital’s CEO, Dr. Tawfig A. Nassar, wrote in an Aug. 4 email appeal, “Today we started feeling the pain and agony around us and we cannot escape it. A child sleeping on a cardboard next to his father, who is severely injured. Every time I pass, the child is asleep but peaking an eye on his dad, being assured that his dad is still next to him and alive. The child does not want to become an orphan and alone. The hospital grounds (are) full of tents and make-shift houses. It is the safest place in the city. People keep arriving. I do not know how much more the hospital can hold. It is one big refugee camp.”
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 1,800 Palestinians have been killed since the fighting began in July. The majority of those killed are believed to be civilians. News reports estimate almost 10,000 people have been injured.
“We pray for the continuation of the present cease-fire that has opened a window for humanitarian assistance to reach Palestinians in Gaza,” said Malpica. “We join millions around the globe praying for peace with justice and security for both Palestinians and Israelis.”
In an Aug. 7 e-alert, ELCA members are asked to consider a gift to help those affected by this crisis. “Our brothers and sisters in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land have asked for our help. One way we are responding is through Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem which provides medical services regardless of religious or political affiliation,” the e-alert reads. Financial gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response will be used 100 percent to support humanitarian relief efforts.
“We pray and hope for a generous response by our members and people of goodwill who would like to join us to help us support these life-saving and life-giving efforts,” said Malpica. “There is too much pain, suffering and death. People need immediate care now.”