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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Patriarchate of Jerusalem and Church of Cyprus Help Syrian Refugees in Jordan

The Zaatari camp

On Thursday, October 18 the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos was present and the reception of parcels of food, medicine, and clothing sent by the Church of Cyprus for Syrian refugees in Jordan staying at the Zaatari camp. The patriarch had intervened for these refugees, some time ago, with the ambassadors of Great Britain, France, Germany, and Cyprus in Amman. The patriarch then visited the camp and gathered information about the refugees' difficulties. They were at the center of recent discussions between the primates of the Patriarchates of Alexandria and Jerusalem and the Church of Cyprus and representatives of the European Union in Brussels. The Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos additionally called on the Archbishop of Cyprus to organize a collection of funds for Syrian refugees in Jordan.

The Orthodox people of Cyprus as well as their government responded to this call: 10 tons of mineral water, 5 tons of food, and 185 cases of clothing, as well as 15 small refrigerators and 5 computers arrived in Akaba by sea and were then shipped to Zaatari on October 18 in the presence of Patriarch Theophilos and several Jordanian clergy, the ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus, and other Jordanian figures.

Zaatari camp is the first official tent camp in Jordan.

The Zaatari camp currently shelters 38,500 out of a total of 210,000 in Jordan. Between 300 and 400 refugees arrive in the camp daily, according to the security conditions on the Syrian-Jordanian border. They arrive at the camp, most often at night, and have nothing with them except their clothes. They are exhausted and often wounded. The first step upon their arrival is to provide them with food and clothing. Great effort is taken to improve the conditions of their stay, as winter is approaching. New roads are being built and covered with gravel in order to protect the camp from dust, which is detrimental to the health of its inhabitants.

75% of the refugees are women and children. A program has been started for the education of between 15,000 and 18,000 children. Schools have been established in tents.

The Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos thanked the representatives of the Jordanian Government, the UNHCR, and UNICEF for the information they transmitted and especially for the humanitarian work that has been accomplished. He declared that the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Church of Cyprus propose to continue actively helping this work through the collaboration of those responsible for the camp and the head of the patriarch's office in Amman, Waffa Ksous.

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