Helping Syrian refugees through the winter

Nader Duqmaq of The Lutheran World Federation in Jordan with an infant pneumonia vest from a Canadian

Recognize this vest? Nader Duqmaq of The Lutheran World Federation in Jordan shows a knitted pneumonia vest that made its way to the Za’atari camp through a CLWR shipment earlier this year. CLWR/R.Granke

Winnipeg, MB – Canadian Lutherans are delivering hope and comfort to Syrian refugees this winter in the form of thousands of warm sweaters.

The sweaters were donated through a national sweater drive spearheaded by Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) that saw Lutheran congregations across the country organizing sweater collections in their communities. The successful drive collected approximately 40,000 sweaters – four times the 10,000-sweater goal – and two shipments are planned to deliver them to the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan early in the new year. The first shipment will be prepared by Manitoba volunteers and CLWR staff at our Winnipeg warehouse from November 27-30.

This volunteer event is called Manitoba Sweater Baling Days. The second shipment will be loaded in mid-December.

The Baling Days volunteers will fold and pack the sweaters into bales that will be loaded into a 40-foot shipping container. Thousands of refugees in the Za’atari camp will receive a sweater in mid-January.

The warmth is desperately needed.

“The men, women and children in the camp have fled terrible violence in Syria, often with very few personal possessions,” says Robert Granke, CLWR executive director. “Many are now facing a cold winter living in temporary shelters without sufficient warm clothing. These sweaters will make a difference.”

CLWR provides funding for other programs in the Za’atari refugee camp, including shelter, mental health programs, winterization kits, education for children and vocational training for adults. This past summer, a $30,000 grant from the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation helped CLWR provide shoes, summer clothing and hygiene kits to some of the most vulnerable people in the camp.

The first shipment of sweaters will be prepared and loaded at CLWR’s Winnipeg warehouse (549 King Edward Street, between Ellice Ave. and St. Matthews Ave.) from November 27-30.

We are accepting donations towards the cost of shipping the sweaters, and to continue our programs in the camp. You can donate:

  • By making a designated offering donation at any Lutheran congregation in Canada.
  • Online at Click on Emergencies and select “Syrian Refugee Relief.”
  • By calling 1.800.661.2597 or locally at 204.694.5602.
  • By sending a cheque made payable to CLWR, 600-177 Lombard Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3B 0W5.


The United Nations has declared the Syrian conflict the worst humanitarian disaster in decades. Antonio Gutteres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, described it as “a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history.”

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been crossing the border into Jordan. Northern Jordan hosts the Za’atari refugee camp. On November 21, 2013, the population of the camp was 113,131. Conditions in Za’atari are overcrowded and under-resourced.

The civil conflict in Syria has continuously escalated in scale and scope since its onset in March 2011. The number of Syrians seeking refuge in neighboring countries has reached more than two million and continues to rise. There are as many as four million internally displaced people.

A new camp, Azraq, has opened and now hosts about 4,000 refugees.

There were approximately 520,000 Syrian “persons of concern” in Jordan at the end of August. The harsh physical conditions and poor economic situation in Jordan means that refugees outside the camps increasingly are having difficulty meeting basic needs.

The most vulnerable of Syrian refugees are female-headed households and unaccompanied children, and these groups are particularly at risk of sexual harassment and exploitation.

Canadian Lutheran World Relief’s Response

CLWR provided a shipment of goods in early 2013 which included: quilts & blankets: 5,479; We Care kits (school supplies, hygiene supplies, baby supplies, clothing, etc.): 3,817; toys: 852; medical supplies: 36 boxes – also wheelchairs. Weight: 12,527 kg. Value: $114,098. All supplies are donated by Canadian organizations and individuals from across the country.

Forty thousand used sweaters will be shipped to the Za’atari refugee camp in two forty-foot containers with the first leaving Winnipeg in early December, 2013, and the second leaving later that month.

Through The Lutheran World Federation in Jordan, CLWR is supporting the distribution of shelter and other non-food items in the Za’atari refugee camp. We also support education for children and psychosocial interventions in the camp, including mediation and conflict resolution.

In the summer of 2013, a $30,000 grant from the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation allowed CLWR to distribute shoes, summer clothing and hygiene kits to some of the most vulnerable people in the Za’atari refugee camp, including those who are chronically ill or disabled, pregnant women, mothers with infants and households headed by women.  


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