ELCA Backs Disaster Relief in Cuba

12/9/1996 12:00:00 AM


The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America supports an exemption
request to send humanitarian aid to parts of Cuba devastated in
October by Hurricane Lili.  Much work remains to be done to
provide relief there. "The development and relief arm of the
National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., Church
World Service (CWS), is requesting an exemption from the
restrictions of the present law in order to be allowed to
transport urgent relief supplies to Cuba using the air corridor
between Miami and Havana," wrote the Rev. Bonnie L. Jensen,
executive director of the ELCA Division for Global Mission, and
the Rev. Charles S. Miller, executive director of the ELCA
Division for Church in Society, in a letter to President Clinton.
"Routing the much needed supplies by sea will mean delays of
three to four weeks," they continued.  "CWS has had a license for
sending humanitarian aid to Cuba since 1992," wrote Jensen and
Miller.  "A flight to carry Catholic Relief Service humanitarian
assistance will be allowed and we hope that the same approval
will be extended to the Church World Service shipment," they
wrote.  The hurricane destroyed 5,600 homes and damaged another
79,000, forced evacuation of 200,000 people in central and
western Cuba, and devastated thousands of acres of crops.  CWS
supports the relief and recovery program of the Cuban Council of
Churches.  Under its 1992 license CWS ships about four plane
loads of aid to Cuba each year, consisting of food, soap, school
kits, medical equipment, antibiotics, and other medicines.  The
ELCA is a member church of the NCC.  The United States government
has maintained an embargo of exports to Cuba since 1962.

For information contact: Ann Hafften, Dir., ELCA News Service,
(312) 380-2958 or AHAFFTEN@ELCA.ORG; Frank Imhoff, Assoc. Dir.,
(312) 380-2955 or FRANKI@ELCA.ORG; Melissa Ramirez, Assist. Dir.,
(312) 380-2956 or MRAMIREZ@ELCA.ORG


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