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ELCA Responds to Needs of Syrian Refugees in Jordan

CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) provided $100,000 to support the needs of people at the Za'atri refugee camp in Jordan. More than 50 percent of the refugees there are below the age of 18.

The funds were sent to The Lutheran World Federation, which is managing camp operations. The conflict in Syria has displaced about 2.5 million people, many of whom have taken refuge at Za'atri. Winter conditions across the region "led to a disaster on top of a disaster for the people in the camp," said the Rev. Robert Smith, program director for the Middle East and North Africa, ELCA churchwide
ministries. "When we saw the specific reporting of how children, the most vulnerable among the vulnerable, were impacted by the storms, we felt it necessary to respond quickly."

The Lutheran World Federation is helping to manage the camp in cooperation with Jordanian authorities, said Smith. The federation is a global communion of 143 member churches in 79 countries worldwide. The ELCA is the communion's only member church from the United States.

"The ELCA has been a strong funder, and we continue to make additional contributions to support relief efforts. The United Nations and UNICEF have indicated that international appeals have not raised sufficient funds, so the ELCA is working to respond to this very vulnerable (refugee) population," said Smith.

"We pray that the fighting will stop in Syria, and people can return home. We're trying to do what we can to support leaders who are working to bring a peaceful solution in Syria," he said.

Along with the federation, the ELCA is working in partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. In 2012, the ELCA contributed $450,000 to help meet the needs of people impacted by the conflict in Syria. Funds are used to purchase and distribute food and personal items, such as hygiene kits, household items, bedding and clothing. Special care and training in nutritional support for mothers is also being made available.

Information about ELCA Disaster Response is available at