Church leaders rally to assist devastated Haiti

THE National Church Leaders' Consultation yesterday asked their followers to show a spirit of generosity to Haitians and alsos well as to offering their prayers to survivors.

THE National Church Leaders' Consultation yesterday asked their followers to show a spirit of generosity to Haitians and alsos well as to offering their prayers to survivors.

The request was made on behalf of the Christian leaders, who had gathered in Stellenbosch, Western Cape.

Two South African search -and-rescue teams are already in Haiti. Another 11-member medical team leaves today, and 10 more medical specialists leave tomorrow.

Disaster relief organisation Gift of the Givers announced that a further 20 medical personnel would be on standby.

The team that left on Monday was flown to a remote part of the country on UN helicopters because of the bad condition of the roads there. They were the first search and rescue team to arrive at the site.

Meanwhile, political leaders were also called upon to initiate an African political response. A statement by the church leaders read: "We appeal to President (Jacob) Zuma to drive an African response at the upcoming African Union summit.

"We are confident that the people of God in South Africa, united behind this response and with the support of the government, will be able to show our solidarity with the Haitians."

The leaders, who had gathered for a Christian intra-faith meeting, announced that they would encourage their members to consider a special collection for Haiti.

An appeal has also been made to international financial institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank to cancel Haiti's considerable international debt.

"The earthquake last week has left an already devastated country on its knees."

The South African Council of Churches and the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference have created separate funds for financial contributions.

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