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Peace Not Walls

LWF works with Jordanian NGO to prepare Syrian refugees for winter

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

LWF President urges Syrian-led dialogue and aid for refugees

The president of the Lutheran World Federation, Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, has called for a Syrian-led dialogue to resolve the current conflict there and has urged the international community to provide emergency aid for refugees fleeing from the violence.  He encouraged world leaders:

“to pursue a Syrian-led process of dialogue and peace-building as diligently as they have pursued military conflict and the preservation of their supposed geopolitical interests.”  They should “avoid the temptation to manipulate sectarian divisions in pursuit of their interests,” he added.

His statement reiterated the LWF’s commitment in assisting Syrian refugees. A Memorandum of Understanding with the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization (JHCO) signed in August includes support to the JHCO in providing shelter, psycho-social support, education services and camp management at the Za’atari refugee camp, inside the Jordanian border with Syria.

Younan urged the United Nations and its member states to spare no effort in delivering the appropriate aid to refugees and to those displaced within Syria. He said efforts “must not waver” in finding a peaceful and just solution to the conflict.

The ELCJHL bishop expressed support for a September statement on Syria by the World Council of Churches’ Central Committee calling for an end to the violence, encouraging urgent humanitarian response and a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Read more about it Read full statement by Bishop Younan

ELCA responds to needs of Syrian refugees in Jordan

The ELCA is responding to the growing refugee crisis in Jordan resulting from Syrians fleeing recently-escalated violence in their home country.  A year of brutal violence is believed to have taken over 10,000 lives thus far in Syria with no end in sight.  An estimated 200,000 people have fled to Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey.   

Jordanian officials recently invited the Rev. Munib A. Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and president of The Lutheran World Federation, into the process of addressing the needs of Syrian refugees. Younan has built a strong relationship with the royal family of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and Younan is now helping to identify ways the ELCA and The Lutheran World Federation can deepen their participation in relief efforts.

 ELCA Disaster Response has committed $250,000 to help support The Lutheran World Federation efforts to provide the lodging for 300 families — about 1,400 people — with adequate housing within the refugee camp in Jordan while providing expertise in camp management to ensure people receive health care, food and water. Earlier this year, ELCA Disaster Response allocated $200,000 to provide food, clothing and other materials to support Syrian families and individuals displaced by the conflict.

Bishop Younan stated:   “I am grateful that, in addition to humanitarian aid organizations, the ELCA was one of the first churches to respond to the needs of the Syrian people, both inside the country and in refugee populations in neighboring countries,” said Younan. “I am grateful for the (ELCA’s) strong accompaniment of my own church, the ELCA’s robust participation in The Lutheran World Federation and for your church’s response to this and other disasters throughout the world.”   Read ELCA news report   |   Go to ELCA’s Disaster Response coverage and donate now   |   Read more on Syria from the BBC    |    Read more about the LWF response