LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan (left) and LWF General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge (right) meet Nabeel, one of the children who make up 52 percent of Za’atri’s population, during a visit to the camp in late September. © LWF/Thomas Ekelund

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), a founding member of the ACT Alliance, has recently started offering emergency assistance in the Za’atri Refugee Camp in Northern Jordan, which is growing rapidly and now houses over 90,000 people, the largest number of Syrian refugees in all the neighboring countries.  The primary aim of the assistance is to provide shelter and clothing for children, as winter now hastily approaches.  In Za’atri, 52 percent of the refugees are below the age of eighteen.

The Jordanian government has given the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization (JHCO), the largest non-governmental organization (NGO) in the country, the mandate to manage the camp. Under a memorandum of understanding with the JHCO, the LWF will provide the refugees with winterized tents, prefab containers and warm garments for 10,000 children. The focus will be broadened in the coming months to include assistance to refugees in organizing community-based groups at the camp.

An LWF delegation comprising LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan and General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge visited Za’atri camp on 27 September and witnessed firsthand the conditions there and the humanitarian response supported by the global Lutheran communion.

Junge said he was impressed by how the different NGOs are working together. But he noted, the needs are there and it takes great efforts to overcome the challenges.

“We are facing difficulties and hardship. I see traumatized people that have escaped violence, and how violence is shaping the way people relate to the situation. Fifty two percent of the population here are children, facing a winter soon to come with low temperatures and rain,” he said.

“We will have to scale up our efforts jointly so that people can live in basic dignity,” Junge added.

Others on the delegation are Rev. Eberhard Hitzler, director of the Department for World Service (DWS), the LWF’s humanitarian relief arm; and Rev. Mark Brown, who heads the Jerusalem-based DWS operations for the Middle East region.

The group’s itinerary until 30 September includes a visit to the LWF-run Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem, and meetings with ecumenical leaders and with the Palestinian Prime Minister Dr Salam Fayyad.  Read more about the LWF response   |  Give now through ELCA disaster response