The refugee crisis is at an all-time high, with nearly 60 million people who have been displaced worldwide according to the UNHCR - the highest number since World War Two. It’s prompted the United Nations to convene its first-ever World Humanitarian Summit (held May 23-24 in Turkey). Number 1 of 7 core commitments is political leadership to prevent and end conflicts that are the leading cause of displacement.
In Syria, more than 50% of its population is currently displaced due to war. One-in-every-two of those crossing the Mediterranean this year – half a million people – were Syrians escaping the conflict in their country, notes Amnesty International.
Neighbouring countries such as Lebanon struggle to accommodate the large number of Syrian refugees in their midst – now estimated to be 1 in 5 people in Lebanon. It’s overwhelming but God is working a miracle in the crisis. June 20 is World Refugee Day, to commemorate the strength, courage, and resilience of millions of refugees. Read more on how CBM and local churches are responding.
One day a bomb falls on Maria’s* building. “The apartment, the furniture, everything that we have is gone,” she tearfully recounts. They fled to Lebanon with nothing, “just the clothes we had on, that’s it.” Their journey to the border was precarious as they passed through intense shelling and clashes between armed forces.
When they arrived in Lebanon, they faced new hazards. “During our first five months we couldn’t find bread to eat…most of the days we were sleeping hungry.” Maria’s husband and sons looked for work but it was hard to find. Adding to family misery is lack of school and activities for their children. Many remain at home with nothing to do. They long to return to Syria and miss things like riding their bicycle, playing in the park, visiting grandfather and other relatives. They are becoming a lost generation.
But one day Maria hears about a church that is helping refugee families. Read the full story in our latest issue of mosaic.
*Name has been changed
Within seven months (Nov ’15 to May ‘16) over 27,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada. Canadian Baptists committed to sponsoring 100 families affected by the crisis in the Middle East. Timberlea Baptist Church, of the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches, was one of the churches to rise to the challenge.
This past New Year’s Day, they welcomed a Syrian refugee family of seven, with children ranging in age from 4 to 12. This was the first time the church attempted a venture like this. With only a congregation of about 60-70, they came together to raise all the necessary funds and involve the wider community. From outfitting the kitchen supplies and food to putting together furniture and accessing translators, they made sure every detail was looked after. The family is deeply grateful for the church’s loving response to their situation. Read more of the story with children’s drawings, activities and other fun learning in the new Kids Care: My Home Away from Home.
Hawa fled war in Somalia after her mom was killed. She too was shot but survived. Today she is a single mom struggling to raise her daughter in a harsh, slum area of Nairobi. “CBM has really helped me in finding friendship, a group that I can belong to (Self-Help Groups) and skills training. I get a share of the group business profits and am encouraged to work harder. God is my inspiration. He always finds a way to help me. I have come from nothing and now have peace.”
She Matters Too is the next step in CBM’s campaign for gender equity, to educate, equip and empower some of the world’s most marginalized girls and women. One of the important initiatives supported in this year’s campaign is Self-Help Groups among refugee women in Kenya.
And coming this fall: She Matters 3 to empower women leaders.
Learn more at shematters.cbmin.org