NEW YORK (UMCOR) - The United Methodist Committee on Relief will immediately begin relief work in Cuba in response to September hurricanes under new licenses the US government has given to the General Board of Global Ministries.

Home reconstruction, food, psychosocial assistance, church repair and livelihoods assistance will benefit thousands of Cubans affected by the hurricanes. "We rejoice in this news and look forward this opportunity to be in mission together with the Methodist Church of Cuba," says the Rev. Sam Dixon, UMCOR's top executive.

Two licenses were granted to Global Ministries: one for the short term (30 days) and a second one that extends the denomination's ability to help until October 2009. The licenses give Global Ministries permission to implement up to $1.1 million in humanitarian response during this time period. While the license is restricted to specific activities as outlined in the license application, this opportunity represents a lifeline to thousands left in need by the storms.

This is an answer to prayer for many in The United Methodist Church in the U.S. who have been calling for a response to the hurricanes in Cuba since they ravaged the island two months ago. The Global Ministries' license, along with the licenses of many other denominations and faith-based agencies, were not renewed by the U.S. Government in 2006 and reapplications have been denied since then.

UMCOR retained the services of Williams and Jenson, a Washington law firm with experience in obtaining these kinds of licenses in September.

"Their experience and UMCOR's persistence have come through in the resulting licenses allowing humanitarian assistance to reach our hurting sisters and brothers in Cuba," says Dixon.

A new Advance has been set up specifically for these efforts. Please give to UMCOR Advance #3020821, Cuba Emergency, to support UMCOR's work in Cuba. Online Giving.