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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 182,077 baptized members in 624 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches, and the World Council of Churches.

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A NEWS RELEASE
From National Office of the ELCIC

AUGUSTA VICTORIA HOSPITAL SITUATION REMAINS CRITICAL; LUTHERANS URGE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT TO RECONSIDER PROPOSAL WHICH WOULD PROVIDE FOR FINANCIAL RELIEF

WINNIPEG, 15 September 2006 – In response to an announcement by the Honourable Josee Verner, Minister of International Cooperation, that the Canadian government would not provide immediate alternative funding to Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH), Lutheran organizations across Canada reconfirmed their commitment to assisting the hospital and urged the government to reconsider their proposal to provide US$900,000 which would keep AVH viable for a three-month period, giving the hospital time to seek other sustainable sources of funding while still providing the only care in the region to refugees and other Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The financial crisis at AVH, a health care institution sponsored and operated by Lutheran World Federation, is the result of some governments within the international community – including Canada, the United States, and the European Union – halting payments to the Palestinian Authority (PA), which has affected the PA’s ability to honour contractual obligations to AVH for the humanitarian services to the hospital.

“It is critical that the government find a way to assist with this crisis,” said the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC)’s National Bishop Raymond Schultz. “If Augusta Victoria Hospital fails, there will be a major humanitarian disaster in the affected area.”

“Lutherans, along with many other church bodies throughout Canada understand the immediacy of this situation; it is disappointing that the Canadian government doesn’t seem to share this perception.” Bishop Schultz continued.

The ELCIC and Lutheran Church-Canada, with support from Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR), the relief and development agency of Lutherans in Canada, has asked that their proposal for direct funding or the possibility of support from other mechanisms within CIDA for AVH be reconsidered.

Though Minister Verner points to the Canadian government’s support of multilateral agencies like UNRWA, UNICEF and WHO, it is unlikely that the AVH will be able to access funds from these sources. AVH is the sole provider of specialty health services such as dialysis and oncology treatment to Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory. These services will need to be discontinued without direct support.

In the five months since an initial request was put forward, urging the Canadian government to provide funding directly to humanitarian agencies in lieu of funding to the PA, no sustainable funding arrangement has been agreed upon and the situation at AVH remains critical.

Robert Granke, CLWR Executive Director, reports that conversations with LWF in Jerusalem confirm the ongoing need for financial assistance. “Without funding, many children will not be able to receive weekly dialysis treatments, and cancer patients will see therapy stop.”

Both the ELCIC and CLWR urge members of the Lutheran community to call attention to the financial crisis at AVH as a result of the Canadian government’s inaction. Concern translated to action can take many forms – prayer, writing to your Member of Parliament about this issue, and/or donating to the emergency appeal that is providing short-term financial assistance to sustain operations at the AVH until long-term funding alternatives are agreed upon. Donations can be made to CLWR directly or through the ELCIC’s Global Hunger and Development Appeal (GHDA).

For more information, please contact:
Ms.Trina Gallop, Manager of Communications
302 - 393 Portage Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B 3H6
204.984.9172
tgallop@elcic.ca

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