In a world where violence forces thousands of families to flee for their lives each day, the time is now to show that the global public stands with refugees.
We are in the midst of the WORLD’S WORST refugee crisis in history. A crisis that brings with it overwhelming numbers, huge challenges for countries and communities affected, untold misery — and hope.
More than 65 million people are now counted as forcibly displaced by the United Nations. That’s like the entire population of the UK or France, or about as many as everyone in New York State, Texas and Florida — all forced from their homes. Just over one-third are refugees, people forced to flee their countries because of persecution, war, or violence. More than half of refugees are under 18 and more people are displaced every day – you could fill about 630 school buses with people forced from their homes every day! War is a major factor. More than half of refugees come from three war-torn countries — Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia, the UN says, while others flee famine or prosecution. Starvation is stalking millions in Africa in 2017. And in Myanmar, there are about 1 million Rohingyas — a persecuted ethnic and religious minority, who say they are being increasingly targeted and attacked.
Some take refuge in the first safe place they find. Others journey on, risking all, in the hopes of finding a better new life.
Right now, as you read this, traffickers are selling migrant men, women and children in make shift ‘slave markets’ all over the world. I’ve read that they are placed under a sign that reads “for sale”. First hand witnesses report them being sold for between $200 and $500 each.
Many times they are then held for ransom in mass prisons and detention centers often run by militias; or used as forced labor and for sexual exploitation. Survivors have spoken of their slave masters extracting ransoms from relatives, including beating and torturing their captives while on the phone to their families so they would hear them scream while being tortured. “People were tied up like goats, beaten with broom handles and pipes every day, to get money,” reported by the International Office on Migration.
What YOU Can Do
That asylum seekers may find hope and restoration from the despair and persecution from which they have fled; that Christians can celebrate unity in Christ while celebrating our differences in cultures and nationalities; that unaccompanied refugee children may be protected from all harm and reunited with loving families; for migrant workers, that they may work in safe and just conditions, and that we who benefit from their labor may be truly grateful for what they provide; for an end to the violence and poverty that displace so many of our sisters and brothers from their homes and homelands; for our political leaders, that they may implement policies that allow for safe migration and just migrant working conditions, and put an end to the detention of asylum seekers, while protecting our national safety.
- If you’ve got five minutes, call your representatives.
Currently, the United States Congress has proposed budget cuts that would reduce refugee assistance to the region by 20 percent and humanitarian relief by 15 percent. It’s critical to call your legislator – and this is especially true if your representative is against helping refugees and if she or he is already in support of refugees.
If she or he doesn’t support refugees, your call could help sway their opinion. And if she or he does support refugees, those calls bolster stances!
It’s really powerful for a senator or representative to be able to say, ‘I got 10,000 calls from constituents who are saying they want us to welcome refugees in this country.’
- If you’ve got a few hours a week, volunteer.
There are refugees already all around the United States trying to settle in to this country. Three million refugees have been resettled in America since the Refugee Act of 1980 was signed, according to Pew Research. About 85,000 people were admitted during the last fiscal year under President Barack Obama.
Resettlement agencies are always looking for volunteers. This ranges from everything from language training to handling logistics to just being some company. Find a local agency and see if there’s anything you can do.
If you need help finding an agency near you, try checking here for the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
- If you’ve got no time but some extra cash, donate.
DONATE TO CABRINI IMMIGRANT SERVICE CENTERS WHO ARE WORKING WITH IMMIGRANTS EVERY DAY! http://www.cis-nyc.org
- If you’ve got friends and neighbors, change their opinions.
All you have to do is talk to people you know and explain to them why you think refugees are people who deserve a chance at a peaceful life.
When people hear that attitude from people they’re familiar with, that’s really powerful. Those conversations can change minds better than news stories and essays.
This is vital if you live in a community where refugees are being settled. You can help to make sure they are fully welcome. Meanwhile, it can lead to an even bigger change. These conversations can be difficult, and you may not be able to change everybody’s minds. Be respectful in these talks — and knowing the stats and information always helps.
But that doesn’t mean you should stop speaking up and spreading awareness. Change often happens slowly. Have patience with it.
- If you’ve got no time, no money, but a lot of passion, then pay attention to the news.
Know what’s going on! It was people’s awareness of the news that led to the inspiring protests at airports around the country after Trump signed his (now-blocked) executive order against refugees. Awareness leads to mobilization, which can lead to change.
- 7. Sign the Pledge:The U.N. Refugee Agency is circulating a#WithRefugees petition, which asks that governments around the world ensure that every refugee child can get an education, that every refugee family has a place to live, and that every refugee can work or train for new skills. The petition will be delivered to the U.N. headquarters in New York in time for the U.N. General Assembly on September 19.