WCC international affairs commission visits refugee camp in Jordan

CCIA, a commission of the World Council of Churches, (WCC) held its core group meeting in Amman, Jordan last Fall, a location chosen in light of WCC's regional focus on the Middle East for its ecumenical pilgrimage of justice and peace. During the meeting, the core group reviewed CCIA's recent work and planned this year's activities related to peace-building, human rights and human dignity.

World Council of Churches is one of the ecumenical partners supported by the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund apportion of the United Methodist Church.

The group visited al-Za'atari refugee camp, located about 70 kilometers north of Amman. Hosting 80,000 Syrian refugees, the camp is considered the largest Syrian refugee camp in the world, equivalent in size to the 4th largest city in Jordan. Living conditions in the camp are difficult. "But what struck us most were not the numbers, but the way which Jordanians are ready to assist the refugees", said Rev. Frank Chikane, moderator of the CCIA. "It was a humbling experience. Jordan is not the richest country, not the biggest nation in terms of numbers, but they are taking care of an extraordinary proportion of refugees, way beyond what others are doing."

"Although the current situation is putting pressure on the country's resources, Jordanians are ready to go out of their way to make sure refugees are taken care of on their territory," said Chikane. "We were told that in recent years Jordan has hosted 1.2 million refugees. They need a country with a heart to be able to receive them, and that testifies to the generosity of the people of Jordan."

"Churches need to do everything possible to make sure this war comes to an end," said Chikane,"and that includes interacting with all parties involved to make sure those who have the power to possibly end this war do their part, to make sure the Syrians are able to go back home and live a normal life."

"We believe that it is in the interest of all the people in the Middle East to find peace. We are confronted with the fact that next year it will be the 50th year of the occupation of Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank. It indicates the failure of humanity and leadership of the world to bring an end to this tragedy", said Chikane. "It is in the interest of both - the Palestinians and the Israelis - to really ensure that the agreements reached are implemented, to end the pain people are going through."

In the Bible, year of jubilee is the year when people are released, debts get cancelled and it is time to come to peace with everyone. "Jubilee year has a strong symbolic meaning especially in Middle East region. We are hoping, that as the 50th year comes, the promise of self-determination, and a viable, independent and contiguous Palestinian state become a reality," said Chikane.

World Council of Churches website

One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund enables United Methodists to share a presence and a voice in the activities of several national and worldwide ecumenical organizations. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund apportionment at 100 percent.