SYRIAN REFUGEE UPDATE — October 15, 2013

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LWF is assisting both Syrian refugees in Jordan and Jordanian families. Hiba (right) is a Jordanian whose family received assistance in the form of a wheelchair. Photo Credit: LWF

Every other Wednesday, I’ll share with you some of what we know about the Syrian conflict and the refugee crisis.

Under an agreement by the UN Security Council, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is currently in Syria, working swiftly to remove chemical weapons. Despite that progress, aid workers in Syria are facing particular danger. Over the weekend, seven workers from the Red Cross and Red Crescent were kidnapped. As of Monday, only four had been freed.

Despite the serious threats to aid workers, staff members of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) have been on the ground, reacting quickly to address rising concerns in refugee camps and host countries. As needs change and new challenges become apparent, LWF has been ready with innovative solutions.

Today, I’d like to highlight LWF’s work in Jordan, where more than half a million Syrians now live. Winter is creeping closer and temperatures in Jordan in January fall to an average of 35°F/1°C. Although rare, snow is not unheard of, especially in the governorate of Mafraq which is home to 170,000 Syrian refugees. LWF has not wasted time planning for these upcoming months. They’ve received one grant for a winter project and have submitted several other proposals to help winterize the camps, one of which is in collaboration with Canadian Lutheran World Relief.

Tension between Syrian refugees and Jordanians is another emerging concern. Syrian refugees now amount to 10% of Jordan’s population. This surge in population has created a food and water shortage. Even rents have increased. LWF is holding programs to ease these tensions. For one of them, LWF has partnered with a local organization, the General Women’s Union, to provide vocational training for women. In the comfortable atmosphere of the workshops, women from both countries mingle and learn from one another. So far, the workshops have been a success. When asked if she had Syrian friends, Nihad Hussein, one of the teachers of the training sessions and a Jordanian, said, “yes, of course.”

Another example of how the LWF reduces tensions is through balancing its support for both populations’ in areas such as medical needs. LWF further reduces tensions by ensuring they are supportive to both Syrians and Jordanians. For example, LWF assisted Rada, a Jordanian woman with three daughters whose youngest, four and a half year old Hiba, has cerebral palsy. To add to her struggle to support Hiba, Rada’s rent went up due to the increased demand for housing. In order to help the family, LWF donated a wheelchair. Similarly, LWF assisted Malik, a 17-year-old Syrian refugee with mental and physical disabilities, by referring him to proper doctors and facilities.

Future LWF projects for Syrian refugees include peace building work, classroom construction, distribution of gas heaters and winter clothes, and increasing access to water. Take action and help LWF provide safety, warmth, and support to both Syrians and Jordanians. Click here to learn more and to donate.

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