In a May 18 letter, bishops of the ELCA urged congressional leaders to support the transfer of funds to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to cover debt owed to Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) in East Jerusalem.
AVH is owned and operated by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and supported by the ELCA and several other member churches of the LWF. Located on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, the hospital provides lifesaving health care to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The hospital’s cash flow problems stem from the inability of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to make regular payments on the fees for cancer patients it refers to the hospital.
“AVH is the first and only hospital to provide radiation therapy for cancer patients in the Palestinian territories and the only medical facility in the West Bank offering pediatric kidney dialysis,” the letter states. “On a daily basis, these and other specialty services touch countless lives, both young and old, from communities across the Palestinian territories. . . .
“Please support the transfer of $120 million to the USAID to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people in 2022. These allocations are needed to cover the PA’s debt to AVH and the other East Jerusalem hospitals,” the letter continues.
“From the Holy Land, our Lutheran Palestinian siblings are crying out, asking us to step into the breach and renew funds to Augusta Victoria Hospital,” said Laurie Larson Caesar, bishop of the ELCA Oregon Synod. “Due to no fault of their own, the situation has become an urgent humanitarian crisis. Let’s not close our ears and eyes. We are proud of the crucial role this Lutheran medical center has played in the West Bank, but when funds are threatened, so are the lives of refugees, children, elders and more.” Caesar is chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops Middle East Ready Bench.
Read the letter.