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Eye clinic run by the Anglican church in Yemen to expand

21 October 2022

It has received additional funding from the Episcopal Church in the United States

Diocese of Cyprus & the Gulf

Patients wait outside the entrance of Ras Morbat Eye Clinic, Aden, in Yemen

Patients wait outside the entrance of Ras Morbat Eye Clinic, Aden, in Yemen

AN EYE clinic run by the Anglican church in Yemen is to expand, thanks to additional funding from the Episcopal Church in the United States.

The Ras Morbat clinic, in the grounds of Christ Church, Aden, is part of the ministry of the diocese of Cyprus & the Gulf (News, 12 April 2019). Two opthalmologists currently work in the clinic, funded by parishes and individual donations. A third will now be appointed, and will also serve as medical director for the next three years.

The current ophthalmologists are both Muslim women, but the new person will be a Christian. The clinic acts as an important bridge between the Anglican church and the Muslim community in Yemen.

The former Archdeacon in the Gulf, the Ven. Dr Bill Schwartz, told the Episcopal News Service that Ras Morbat was “the diocesan outreach mission”. He said: “It’s not just about bringing sight to the blind. It’s bridge-building, which we’ve been doing now for 30 years.”

Because of the clinic’s care for the people of the region, he said, Yemenis saw that what the Church was doing was “a force for good for their people”. The clinic provides specialist eye care, offering eye examinations, glasses, and cataract surgery to anyone in need.

The Archdeacon in Cyprus, the Ven. Christopher Futcher, said that, during the civil war, local people looked after the church compound and clinic, saving it from damage: “People are very aware that this is a Christian contribution for local people.”

He said that the diocese hoped to be able to reappoint a priest to the Church. “The church in the same compound as the clinic is open as a place of prayer. Regular services will be able to resume with a resident priest and with a congregation when more staff return to Aden with relief projects and NGOs.

“We also have been hoping to be able to start a project focused on literacy for women, and developing skills for them in micro businesses, such as sewing, but we have not been able to secure outside funding for this yet.”

The Episcopal Church has donated $90,900, after a resolution introduced at the Church’s 80th General Convention by Bishop James Magness, the former Bishop for the Armed Forces, who has led many pilgrimages to the region.

The Episcopal Church is also likely to provide some support for a new priest for Christ Church, after clergy were removed for their safety at the height of fighting.

Civil war broke out in Yemen in 2014 between government forces and Houthi rebels. It has forced at least four million people to flee their homes, and created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the United Nations says.

A ceasefire has held since April, however, and the UN secretary-general, António Guterres, has called for the truce to be extended for good. He said that the truce had “delivered tangible benefits and much needed relief to the Yemeni people, including a significant reduction in violence and civilian casualties countrywide.

“This is the moment to build on the gains achieved and embark on a path towards the resumption of an inclusive and comprehensive political process, to reach a negotiated settlement to end the conflict. The United Nations will spare no efforts to support the parties in this endeavour.”

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