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Church and Humanitarian Agencies Urge Support for Refugees

“We now look to the churches to help that country during this time of transition, and in the building up of the infrastructure required for long-term stability and development”
( [email protected] ) Mar 04, 2004 02:52 PM EST

NEW YORK, NY – The chaotic eruptions of violence in Haiti that claimed the lives of more than 130 people since Feb. 5 have prompted immediate response not only from the international governments and policy makers, but also from international communities of Christians.

Christian Church-led groups such as the Church World Service and World Vision has already prepared shipments of emergency food and medicine to send to the war-torn nation.

Church World Service’s shipment – a 20 foot container of dehydrated food, 30 Interchurch Medical Assistance standard medicine boxes and eight disaster medicine boxes – will be delivered to Haiti by March 8.

Meanwhile, other church-based and church-led groups such as the National Council of Churches, have called upon the U.S. government to provide more support to the victims of the chaos. Church leaders from several denominations also launched campaigns to support Haitian asylum seekers to the U.S.

"We're urging that the U.S. provide protection to Haitian refugees who are fleeing Haiti,” said CWS Executive Director John L. McCullough. "We are also requesting that the U.S. grant temporary protective status to Haitians presently in the U.S. who are fear for their safety if they are deported. And that includes those Haitian asylum seekers who are still in detention in this country."

The Caribbean Council of Churches and Jamaican Council of Churches have voiced similar concerns as the CWS, and have in turn urged their government to receive Haitian asylum seekers whenever they appear.

According to the CWS, Jamaica has already stated that it would accept Haitian asylum seekers, but the U.S. has been “adamant about returning all Haitian refugees picked up at sea.”

In turn, the National Council of Churches, a collection of 36 churches and denominations within the United States, called upon churches to help transition the country to restore peace:

“We now look to the churches and other civil society actors to help that country during this time of transition, and in the building up of the infrastructure required for long-term stability and development,” the NCC announced upon the outbreak of the Haiti rebellion in Feb. 5.

The Haitian citizens have seen 32 overthrown governments and two elections within the past 18 years. In lieu of the constant havoc, The National Spiritual Council of Haitian Churches urged churches to come together within the nation to provide a sort of stability that the nation’s people can lean upon.

“ In this chaotic situation, the church is called to play her role, where the truth must question policy makers and political parties and call for dialogue, compromise and negotiation,” the Council of Haitian Churches urged in a letter dated Feb. 16.

“This is the message we are calling our churches to preach to the people and what we insist on from the government and the opposition parties. Besides, we have asked the international community, particularly the Caribbean community and the Organization of American States that the Protestant grass roots churches be allowed to attend the next negotiating meeting, in order to know and to understand from where the truth and the lies are coming.