UMCOR Seeks to Provide Humanitarian Aid to Cuba
September 16, 2008—In a preliminary report released by the Cuban government today, the damage caused by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike is the most devastating the country has experienced. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their homes with nearly half a million houses severely or totally damaged. Much of the nation’s infrastructure has been significantly compromised and the preliminary estimate to rebuild is $5 billion.
United Methodists are troubled that the policy of the United States prohibits the denomination from providing aid to people who are clearly vulnerable and in need. Staff at General Board of Global Ministries is working with attorneys and reaching out directly to the President of the United States, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury, urging them to renew a license that would allow the agency and its United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to send money to Cuba.
The Rev. Edward W. Paup, general secretary of Global Ministries, in a letter to Secretary Paulson wrote, “UMCOR is an important channel for humanitarian disaster relief in the United States and around the world. We are anxious to assist in legal ways the many hurricane survivors and communities devastated by the recent storms in Cuba. Our people are frustrated that they cannot fulfill what United Methodists consider a biblical mandate to alleviate suffering.”
Methodists in Cuba have responded to the damage done by hurricanes, although they are severely limited in their financial capacity. Reports on this work of the Methodist Church of Cuba can be found in Spanish and English on the church’s internet site at http://imecu.org/index.php.