Many people who are today refugees once had relatively ordinary lives. They went to school, pursued careers, played sports, worshipped, farmed, enjoyed the company of family and friends and dreamed of bright futures. Until the moment natural disaster, conflict or persecution forced them to flee. The World Refugee Day 2015 theme "Refugees. Ordinary people living through extraordinary times" calls on people living in peace and stability to remember that shared humanity. 

The Lutheran World Federation provides relief to refugees and internally displaced people. The LWF World Service has programs in 32 African, Asian and Latin American countries, touching the lives of more than 2 million people in some of the most challenging environments. LWF support will never replicate what people once had but it does enable them to live in as dignified a manner as possible. To make this happen, we need your continued financial support.


Message from Maria Immonen, LWF World Service Director

In the Alps across Europe hikers can find refuges, refuggia, in the most surprising places – at the end of hard hikes, by hidden mountain lakes, at passes over mountains. Many have existed for thousands of years, some are newer, but all are open to the tired walkers who look for water, shelter and something to eat to restore their tired bodies and souls. The culture of receiving the stranger, hospitality and care is age-old, and common to all humanity.

In this context the discussions in Europe, Australia and other wealthy countries where the desperation of people fleeing war, persecution and extremism is not recognised and where populist nationalists label immigrants economic burdens on their countries, it seems that the tradition of welcoming strangers and hospitality is no longer upheld by many.  Instead neighbouring countries affected by the flood of refugees carry disproportionate burdens, and struggle to cope. Funds for meeting the needs, even at minimally acceptable levels, are decreasing as the numbers fleeing rise. Development and humanitarian budgets are being slashed by right wing governments across Europe.  International Humanitarian law is no longer upheld as absolute and its long held principles eroded in public debates and the media. Humanitarian workers find their working environment becoming ever more violent, threatening and constrained.

During the Second World War my home country Finland was faced with a massive population movement when almost 500.000 Karelian refugees flooded into the country within a very short period of time. The burden this placed on the receiving population was enormous and the practical challenges of meeting the needs of those who had to leave everything behind unbelievable. But the challenges were overcome and the political and national will was clear: those in need will be helped.

Refugees have always been at the heart of the work of the Lutheran World Federation since its founding in 1947. Today, we work with over two million refugees every year, all over the world. We have the privilege of being able to look in their eyes, and recognise the common humanity we share. We know, beyond a doubt, that there is no alternative to hospitality, offering refuge. Because it is human.


When heavily-pregnant Kamla Edno fled the terror of Islamic State for the safety of the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, she found shelter at a camp at which the LWF supplies residents with clean water from boreholes. Although it was a relief to have reached safety, she came with nothing. When the time came to give birth, the only cradle she could provide her baby girl was a plastic vegetable crate. Please support the work of LWF in northern Iraq

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Daniel Deba was a professor of biology in the Central African Republic when government employees became targets of rebel militia. He fled with his family and started a farming enterprise to earn money for his children's education. He hopes they will have a better future than his. The LWF provided Daniel Deba and other refugees from the Central African Republic oxen, plows, seeds and a warehouse when they came to Chad. Now the group has three warehouses filled with an abundant stock of grain they grew themselves. Please support the work of LWF in Chad.

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Nyaring (not her real name), 13, is a South Sudanese refugee who was living n the town of Bor when militia attacked. In the instant her father was killed, she became an orphan. Now in the safety of Adjumani refugee camp, Uganda, the LWF has built her a house and provides her with school materials and cash. It also monitors her situation within a foster family. The work of LWF Uganda needs continued support to provide for refugees like Nyaring.

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It has been more than 50 years since the Chinese invasion forced hundreds of thousands to flee Tibet and be able to practice their religion. Sonam and Dolma have never known the country which is considered their home. They were born and have spent their lives in Nepal. Yet they are refugees and face the restrictions of that status every day. Please support the work of LWF with refugees and earthquake survivors in Nepal.

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You, me and war. A music video dedicated to Za'atari camp residents

Member of the LWF governance, Jenny Moe, has put music to the sights and sounds of the Za'atari refugee camp, in Jordan, in a tribute to the nearly 85,000 Syrians who live within its confines. Filmed with the help of camp residents, Jenny's music expresses her reaction to the situation. She encourages churches to consider supporting the work of DWS in Za'atari.

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DWS 2014 annual report

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