During a visit to the Middle East this January, I had the chance to witness the work of our partners that Week of Compassion is supporting to respond to the humanitarian needs of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Jordan. Due to the 5-year-old Syrian war and the increased instability in northern Iraq, with no end in sight, Syrians and Iraqis have fled to Jordan and elsewhere to find some semblance of peace.
More than 12 million Syrians--more than half of the country's population--have been displaced inside Syria or are refugees in neighboring countries. The need for food, medicine, clothing, heating, and shelter are immediate for refugees who have recently been forced from their homes, and for those who have been there longer. On this recent trip, I helped to distribute winter coats, small space heaters, and basic food parcels to about a hundred refugee families. They were grateful to receive the assistance, but still hope to settle somewhere where they would be able to resume a stable life. Week of Compassion continues to support the work of the Greek Orthodox Church and the Middle East Council of Churches, who respond to those needs in Jordan, and several other partners throughout the Middle East, including in Syria and Lebanon.
Early in the morning, boys run amid the tents in the Zaatari Refugee Camp, located near Mafraq, Jordan. Opened in July 2012, the camp holds upwards of 20,000 refugees from the civil war inside Syria, but its numbers are growing. Week of Compassion is active in the camp through our partners, providing essential items and services. Photo: Paul Jeffrey
On the same visit, I also saw the more than 65 years of displacement of Palestinian refugees in Jordan. Their status as refugees clearly is a more permanent reality, as they went from tents to constructed buildings for homes some generations ago. Despite longer experience as refugees, two Palestinians told me they still hope for a resolution of their status, even as they need plumbing repairs and improvements in their sub-standard and basic shelters they call home. The Middle East Council of Churches continues to work with Palestinian refugees in Israel/Palestine, Jordan, and Lebanon, implementing programs of community development, vocational training, and education for children and youth. Again, Week of Compassion is there, supporting this Christian witness in response to need.
The global refugee crisis will only grow. As a church, we can and should do what we can to respond to the basic needs of people in crisis, advocate for their rights, and work to improve of the conditions they have fled--all so that they can enjoy life in its fullness, with stability, and in peace.
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ continue to offer support for the work of many partners in the region to provide humanitarian response to the needs of Syrian refugees. Please consider supporting the work of Global Ministries' partners' relief efforts in and around Syria. You can do that through the Week of Compassion (Disciples), One Great Hour of Sharing (UCC), or through Global Ministries directly.