Archbishop's Gift to Bethlehem
Tuesday 27th June 2006The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has today responded to an urgent appeal from secular and religious authorities for assistance to meet a deepening humanitarian crisis in Bethlehem.
In his appeal the Governor of Bethlehem, Salah Tamari, observed that "our hospital no longer has drugs [and] people do not have food". The Greek Catholic Archbishop, Elias Chacour, wrote "we hope and pray that a resolution will soon be found to this crisis but in the meantime we need your help to save the lives of the most vulnerable."
Dr Williams has responded with a financial contribution to the Naaman Trust, a UK registered charity that is providing medical supplies and other relief in Bethlehem. He said, "I hope this offering for essential medical support will show to the local community that we know of, and care about their suffering."
In January of this year Dr Williams sent a delegation to Bethlehem to convey a message of solidarity with people there. Since then the effects of the isolation imposed on the town, aggravated by the consequences of the reaction to the election of Hamas later that month, have been monitored with increasing concern. The Archbishop believes that "restrictions on the movement of Bethlehem's citizens limit their capacity for self-help". This has made an already grave humanitarian situation worse, with a disproportionate effect on the weak and vulnerable.
The Archbishop renewed his call for an increase in the number of Western Christians visiting the Holy Land on pilgrimages. "Pilgrimages are a practical way of showing solidarity and helping to sustain the livelihoods of vulnerable communities in the Holy Land", he said. Dr Williams urged Christians to continue to "support and pray for those working for peace and reconciliation in the region, including through the provision of humanitarian aid."