US Bishops urge Obama to intervene in UN funding cut for Gaza hospital
The decision, made June 1, cuts the hospital’s budget nearly by half.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori along with 101 Episcopal Church bishops from 43 states and the District of Columbia have written to U.S. President Barack Obama calling for his intervention in reversing the decision that, they say, could have “disastrous consequences for the more than two million residents of Gaza, already living in conditions of profound humanitarian need.”
UNRWA’s decision, after nearly two decades of partnership with the hospital, comes “without public justification … and threatens to debilitate the hospital, its 120-person staff, and the many thousands of Gazans who rely on it for primary and urgent care and treatment,” the bishops say. [The full text of the letter is available here.]
Founded as a mission of the Anglican Church in 1882, the hospital became a part of the diocese in 1982. Today, it is among more than 30 institutions run by the Jerusalem-based diocese.
The hospital provides primary and emergency care to the almost exclusively Muslim population in Gaza, “and does so without proselytizing or discriminating on the basis of religion, ethnicity, politics, or social identification,” the bishops say. “It is the only facility of its sort in the Gaza Strip that is not run by the Hamas government and as such, it is able to provide care without any outside interference or political calculation. Its continued operation thus is in the inherent interests of the United States government.”
Hospital Director Suhaila Tarazi, in a recent interview with ENS, said that the hospital is “a place of peace, a place of reconciliation, a place of love.”
The hospital serves about 42,000 outpatients and 4,800 inpatients per annum, and runs specific programs for children and the elderly. It provides services in general surgery, general medicine, gynecology and obstetrics, pediatrics, orthopedics, among other areas.
“We provide medical care to all people, especially the poor, without any discrimination,” said Tarazi. “As a Christian hospital we have the full respect from all the community because we are for all.”
Report by Matthew Davies on Episcopal News Service June 6 2012
JMECA supports the Al Ahli Arab Hospital.