Williams urges support and solidarity for earthquake victims

By staff writers
15 Jan 2010

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has said that Anglican agencies worldwide will give concerted support to urgent relief efforts in Haiti following the huge earthquake there, and has urged people to pray and give in response.

He said: "I am profoundly shocked. As the news comes through, we are learning more about the tragic loss of life, injury suffered and terrible damage to the country. We stand alongside all the people in Haiti affected by this terrible disaster in prayer, thought and action as the situation unfolds. We pray for the rescue of those still trapped and look towards the rebuilding of lives and communities."

Dr Williams has also commended "the swift action of the UK Government's Department for International Development and the relief agencies and churches in mobilising an emergency response."

He added: "In this time of catastrophic loss and destruction, I urge the public to hold the people of Haiti in their prayers, and to give generously and urgently to funding appeals set up for relief work."

Questions have been raised this morning about where the money for the British government's contribution to the Haiti relief effort is coming from, with development activists demanding that it should not hit core commitments in the aid budget and DFID's work.

A donation of more than £6 million "to help kick-start humanitarian relief in Haiti" was announced on 14 January 2010 by the International Development Secretary, Douglas Alexander.

British search and rescue workers have been heading to the stricken country.

Mr Alexander said: "The most pressing need is for international search and rescue teams - including firefighters from all over Britain - to get on with their work of saving lives. But at the same time there is an overwhelming requirement for food, water, sanitation, shelter and medicine among the people who have been made homeless."

DFID said the UK contribution will be divided between a number of international agencies and appeals, according to an ongoing assessment of need on the ground. Around £984,354 (1.6 million dollars) has gone immediately to the appeal launched by the International Federation of the Red Cross.

A DFID spokeswoman said other likely priorities for the remainder of the funds include water, sanitation, health, food and shelters. A further donation will be made by the Government once the United Nations announces its "flash appeal".

Meanwhile, Anglican contributions to the overall effort are occurring ecumenically in Britain through Christian Aid, which operates on behalf of some 40 church and denominational bodies in Britain, and in the US and Canada through bodies that are part of broader alliances.

For those in the UK who wish to donate to Christian Aid's Haiti Earthquake Appeal, click http://www.christianaid.org.uk/emergencies/

For those in the United States who wish to donate through Episcopal Relief and Development, click http://www.er-d.org/

For those in Canada who wish to donate through The Primate's World Relief and Development Fund, click http://www.pwrdf.org/

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