ELCA provides humanitarian assistance for vulnerable people in the Central African Republic

12/26/2013 12:00:00 AM

            CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has added $50,000 in humanitarian assistance to its August 2013 relief commitment of $250,000 to help those affected by the violence in the Central African Republic. The funds were disbursed through Lutheran Disaster Response.

            The ELCA sent $50,000 to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Central African Republic for emergency food aid distribution to 5,000 internally displaced people. The church is one of the ELCA's companion churches.

            "We are working with our companion church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Central African Republic, which is playing a key role in peace-building and reconciliation between Muslim and Christian communities in the country," said Vitaly Vorona, ELCA program director for Lutheran Disaster Response International. "We have a long-standing history with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Central African Republic, and we will continue to walk with our brothers and sisters on this road toward peace."

            In August, the ELCA provided $250,000 to The Lutheran World Federation to help meet the immediate needs of those affected by the crisis. The relief includes protection, food, hygiene and sanitation materials.

            "In coordination with The Lutheran World Federation, Lutheran Disaster Response has been present and is providing assistance to help vulnerable populations within the Central African Republic," said Vorona.

            According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 600,000 people are displaced across the country, and 2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance as a result of fighting between predominantly Muslim and predominantly Christian militias in the Central African Republic. 

            "Increasing tensions in the area are creating obstacles in delivering emergency materials," said Vorona. "With The Lutheran World Federation, we are also working to help strengthen the resilience and capacity of the area by providing psycho-social support and encouraging inter-religious peace and mediation initiatives."

             In a Dec. 19 letter addressed to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton, along with three ELCA synod bishops, expressed concern for "the grave state of human insecurity in the Central African Republic."  The letter urged Kerry and U.S. elected officials to "continue the aid measures in the Central African Republic, support the efforts of religious leaders to prevent violence and promote peace and harmony among their communities and restore order."

            Lutheran Disaster Response plans to provide additional humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations in the Central African Republic in 2014.   

            Information about Lutheran Disaster Response is available at http://www.elca.org/disaster.

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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.

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Candice Hill Buchbinder

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