Israel + 1 more

OPT: Emergency funding needed for Lutheran World Federation's August Victoria hospital in Jerusalem

Baltimore, March 27, 2006 - Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem, operated by Lutheran World Federation, is in dire need of funds to continue providing needed medical services during a time of crisis.
Lutheran World Relief, a member of Action by Churches Together (ACT) International, is supporting the hospital through a recent ACT appeal for emergency funds. Much more help is needed.

Augusta Victoria Hospital, located on the Mount of Olives, serves patients in the Occupied Palestinian Territories regardless of race, gender, political or religious affiliation, ethnic origin or nationality. Augusta Victoria provides emergency medical services as well as unique services such as kidney dialysis, cancer treatment, and head-neck surgery. It is currently the only specialized center for pediatric dialysis, and the only radiation oncology treatment center for Palestinians.

Augusta Victoria also operates a bus service to transport staff and patients to and from the hospital due to travel restrictions enforced by the Israeli Military Authorities that prohibit movement across borders. For many people in the area it is the only accessible place to obtain healthcare services.

The hospital had been providing these services to the population through a contract with the Palestinian Authority, which had several such contracts with non-governmental organizations to provide civil services. However, since the recent elections and Hamas victory, Israel has promised to illegally withhold the Palestinian's own tax money from them -- Palestinian money charged on Palestinian goods that is only collected by Israel -- effectively jeopardizing the lives of the many patients who depend on Augusta Victoria for medical care.

The hospital is seeking approximately $1.4 million to ensure its ability to continue providing medical services for the next six months, during which time it will either find a sustainable solution to the problem or, regrettably, decide to scale down its activities - both putting patients' lives and health at risk and creating a secondary crisis for its employees by terminating their jobs.