ELCA NEWS SERVICE
August 24, 2012
ELCA working to meet needs of Syrian refugees in neighboring Jordan
CHICAGO (ELCA) - The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is responding to the needs of Syrian refugees in Jordan, where an estimated 150,000 Syrians -- 39,600 of which are registered with the United Nations as refugees -- have fled. As the conflict in Syria continues to worsen, some Syrians have also fled to Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey.
The Rev. Munib A. Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and president of The Lutheran World Federation, has been in conversation with Jordanian officials about how Lutherans can best be involved in addressing the needs of Syrian refugees. He is helping to identify ways in which his church, the ELCA and The Lutheran World Federation can deepen their participation in relief efforts.
Both the ELCA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land are member churches of The Lutheran World Federation, a global communion of 143 member churches in 79 countries all over the world. The ELCA is the federation's only member church from the United States.
"We have offered our services to respond in a way that addresses the needs both of the Syrian refugees and of the host government of Jordan," said Younan. Receiving refugees is difficult work that can stretch resources and affect political dynamics in host countries.
In particular, Lutherans are working to oversee refugee camp management and access to proper shelter, as the desert climate in Jordan leads to large fluctuations in temperature and frequent blowing dust.
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.
"We are very pleased that we have been allowed by Jordanian officials to move forward with these possibilities. It is our hope that the political situation in Syria will soon stabilize, so that the people displaced by conflict can return to their homes," said Younan, adding that the royal family in Jordan has consistently demonstrated its concern for preserving religious plurality in Jordan and throughout the region.
ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson said the ELCA's first response to the conflict in Syria is prayer. "We lift our prayers for each community in Syria, not for Christians alone. We understand that as smaller communities in Syria, Christians can sometimes be more vulnerable than others."
The ELCA is currently working with global ecumenical partners on several disasters, said Hanson, "even as The Lutheran World Federation helps operate refugee camps in other places. The disaster in Syria, however, is the result of human failures to address political disagreements. We are working with global partners and reaching out to policymakers to address these political concerns from the perspective of our faith," he said.
Earlier this year, Hanson wrote to Christian church leaders in Syria, offering support of the churches' collective call for an end to violence and to offer prayer for the people in the region.
The ELCA continues to work with global partners to shape U.S. policy toward Syria that strengthens protection of vulnerable populations within and beyond Syria's borders.
"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."
Information about the conflict in Syria is available at http://www.elca.org/Our-Faith-In-Action/Responding-to-the-World/Disaster-Response/Ongoing-Responses/Syria-Conflict-2012.aspx.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with 4.2 million members in 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper
773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@ELCA.org
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com