Refugees: Relief Organizations

LHIOn the I Was a Stranger web site, the church provided a list of reliable relief groups to whom we can contribute. That list includes:

  • Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA)
  • Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
  • International Committee of the Red Cross/Red Crescent (ICRC)
  • International Medical Corps (IMC)
  • International Rescue Committee (IRC)
  • United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

I was also made aware of a small organization called Lifting Hands International that needs donations.

This organization is run by a former BYU student who is on the isles of Lesbos and has personally helped countless refugees as they arrive in small, less-than-sea worthy boats.

Donations to this group can be made from their:

 

Refugees: Did you Know? – 2

In adhering to Elder Kearon’s call to stay informed, here is a story of the Pope’s visit to the Greek island a Lesbos. While there he escorted 12 refugees from their dismal camp to Italy where they will be cared for by Catholic Charities.

pope

LDS Humanitarian Services has a strong relationship with Catholic Charities.

Refugees: Did You Know?

unhcrA good way to become informed about the scope of the global refugee crisis is to go to the web sites of those organizations that have devoted years to serving the global displaced population. Chief among these organizations is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

To get an idea of the statistics behind the stories, you can access the UNHCR Facts and Figures page.

Here are a view statistics I gleaned from these sites:

  • There were 19.5 million refugees worldwide at the end of 2014
  • 14.4 million under the mandate of UNHCR, around 2.9 million more than in 2013.
  • The other 5.1 million Palestinian refugees are registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
  • During the year, conflict and persecution forced an average of 42,500 persons per day to leave their homes and seek protection elsewhere, either within the borders of their countries or in other countries.
  • Developing countries host over 86% of the world’s refugees, compared to 70% ten years ago.
  • In 2014, the country hosting the largest number of refugees was Turkey, with 1.59 million refugees.
  • By the end of 2014, Syria had become the world’s top source country of refugees, overtaking Afghanistan, which had held this position for more than three decades.
  • Today, on average, almost one out of every four refugees is Syrian, with 95 per cent located in surrounding countries.
  • Last year, 51% of refugees were under 18 years old. This is the highest figure for child refugees in more than a decade.
  • An estimated 13.9 million people were newly displaced due to conflict or persecution, including 2.9 million new refugees.
  • By the end of 2014 the number of people assisted or protected by UNHCR had reached a record high of 46.7 million people.

Did you know the following about the refugees in Utah:

  • 211Utah resettles about 1,150 refugees a year
  • There are 60,000 refugees in Utah now
  • 5,000-10,000 continue to need assistance of some kind, especially job upgrades
  • For more information about refugees in Utah, call 211.

Refugees: Local Needs – United Way

uwUtah already has a strong refugee organization that we can tap into and make an immediate difference. In fact, the United Way of Utah is hosting a volunteer orientation meeting to help us find the optimum way we can contribute. Here are the details:

  • Date:  Saturday, April 16, 2016
  • Time: 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Where: Utah Refugee @ Training Center, 250 West 3900 South, Salt Lake City.

Click the link below to review the official flyer with all the relevant details.

refugee-center-open-house-invite-april-16

If you cannot attend this event, please take a few minutes to review the Utah United Way’s web site for valuable information about how you can help.

 

Refugees: Where to Start

confusionWith a global emergency as vast and complex as the current refugee crisis, it is easy to get discouraged by not knowing what you can do to contribute to the solution. While many of us may have a strong desire to help, we face the complex web of resource and time constraints. For this reason, the Church has strongly advised that we contribute what we can without “running faster than we are able.”

Elder Patrick Kearon provided us a simple three-pronged approach on how to get started. These steps include:

  1. Beginning with prayer
  2. Getting involved
  3. Increasing awareness

While prayer is left up to the individual, as a ward community, we can all help each other find avenues where we can get involved and provide credible news sources where we can increase our awareness.

startI suggest the starting point is to review the information the Church has already provided on its web sites. As was announced in April Conference, the church has launched a new site call I Was a Stranger.

On that site you will find two powerful videos that will help make this enormous problem more approachable.

When we Were Strangers

I was a Stranger: Love One Another

Then, I would recommend reviewing four conference talks that dealt directly with what we can do to get involved. Links to each of these talks are found below:

Linda K. Burton Cheryl A. Esplin
    burton  esplin
Neil F. Marriott Patrick Kearon
 marriott  kearon

I was a Stranger

refugee1In the April 2016 General Conference, several talks in the Women’s General Session and the General sessions were devoted to reaching out the the millions of refugees forced from their homes and sometimes their countries as a result of vicious wars and corrupt governments.

refugee2The plight of the refugees has been plaguing this world for centuries. Indeed, the Jaredites, Children of Israel, Muelekties, Nephites, and, more recently, the Latter-day Saints, have all been refugees. Mary, Joseph, and Christ were also refugees.

So, as the Church leaders have mentioned, we of all people should be sensitive to assisting wherever we can, those who were forced to flee their homes.

While massive displacement of people is not a new phenomenon, since 2013, the world has seen a dramatic influx of refugees on a scale that have become overwhelming to those organizations already dedicated to assisting the dispersed and dispossessed.

refugeechartThis dramatic rise in the number of refugees is most recently related to the wars and political chaos in the Middle East. Syria, in the throes of a devastating and lengthy civil war, has become the majority contributor to the world’s refugees.

In response to this serious, global problem, the Church has redoubled its effort to reach out to the millions of victims through it powerful humanitarian organization. But the problem is too large. So the Church is now reaching out to all members of the church to get involved.

To that end, I will use this web site as a forum to share ideas of what we can do to help in this cause. I firmly believe that no act of love is ever wasted. So regardless of your ability to help, anything you can do will be greatly appreciated.

Please remember, this call to serve comes directly from the Savior when He said:

bethesdaFor I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. – Matthew 25:35-40