Syrian Refugee CrisisRIM Syrian Children

For the past few years, the crisis in Syria has been escalating. Unimaginable violence and unrest across the Middle East and Northern Africa has grown to a level that has created one of the greatest humanitarian crises in current memory. Not since the Second World War have we seen such high numbers of refugees and displaced persons desperately seeking safety and refuge in lands not their own.

Searching for Syria? Google and UNHCR offer answers to five top questions

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and Google are launching a powerful new website that gives global online audiences an informative and compelling insight into the Syrian refugee crisis, its staggering human cost and the world’s humanitarian response aimed at helping millions of Syrian families, forced from their homes by violence and persecution, survive and restore their dignity.

The “Searching for Syria” website (https://www.searchingforsyria.org ) combines UNHCR data and stories, Google Search Trends and other sources to deliver answers to the five most common queries that people around the world are asking about the Syrian refugee crisis:

  • What was Syria like before the war?
  • What is happening in Syria?
  • Who is a refugee?
  • Where are Syrian refugees going?
  • How can I help Syrian refugees?

The answers are delivered through rich and immersive multimedia content – some produced by UNHCR and some provided by Google.

“Searching for Syria aims to dispel myths and misconceptions about Syria and refugees and provide an entirely fresh look at the biggest humanitarian tragedy of today,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “This is a fantastic project with Google that allows us to pinpoint and answer the five key questions about Syrian refugees and displaced that audiences most want to know and help us rally much needed support and funding for our humanitarian effort.”

“We’re proud to work with the UNHCR to develop Searching for Syria to help raise awareness and inform the world on the human cost of the ongoing conflict and the refugee crisis,” said Jacquelline Fuller, Vice President of Google.org. “The scale of the Syrian refugee crisis is difficult for most of us to fathom, but the questions on Searching for Syria are a reflection of many people’s desire to understand. Among the top searches in Germany, France, and the UK last year was: What is happening in Syria?”

With the Syrian crisis in its seventh year testing the international resolve and ability to end the conflict, more than five million Syrian refugees face increasing hardships and risks. Host communities in neighbouring countries region continue to bear the brunt of the response to the Syrian crisis in a manner that is not sustainable. Meanwhile, the humanitarian effort for Syrian refugees, led by UNHCR, faces critical challenges with only 17 per cent of funds available to meet the immediate needs of uprooted Syrian families this year.

Throughout the experience of the “Searching for Syria” website, audiences can browse through the five queries and dive deeper into the content through short editorial passages, refugee profiles, photographs and videos. For users wishing to engage further, the website will offer options to share content via social networks, donate or sign up to UNHCR’s #WithRefugees global petition asking the world leaders to ensure education for refugee children, adequate shelter and livelihoods for refugee families.

The “Searching for Syria” website is available in English, French, German and Spanish with an Arabic version soon to follow. The website will be featured on the Google home page (http://www.google.com) in selected countries or can be accessed directly at http://www.searchingforsyria.org.

Disciples and United Church of Christ Holy Season Statement on Violence in the Middle East and Refugees

In the beginning of Holy Week, marking the entry of Jesus to Jerusalem, his suffering and his death, we watch with sadness and grief the tragic violence of the past several days throughout the Middle East. Our prayers, our solidarity, and our support are with the people of the region, as it remains a place of conflict in which innocent people become victims of senseless and horrible violence, and restrictions. Read the full statement.

Hold an Event For Welcoming Refugees Thru Worship, Education & Action!

Join faith communities around the country as soon as you can to show your support for refugees! Plan an event in late Spring or in June near “World Refugee Day on June 20th.” To learn how you can sponsor an event, visit the Refugee Welcome Weekend resource page.

U.S. Has Taken In Less Than a Fifth of Pledged Syrian Refugees

(New York Times) UNITED NATIONS — The Obama administration’s effort to step up asylum for Syrian refugees is going so slowly, it may not meet the president’s deadline for accepting at least 10,000 by the end of the fiscal year.

More than seven months since the president pledged to resettle the most vulnerable Syrians, the United States has let in less than a fifth of that number — 1,736 through the end of April, according to government figures.

That slow pace could undermine the administration’s diplomatic push to advance the cause of refugees at a time when other countries are putting up taller barriers to their entry. President Obama and the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, have said they will raise the issue of refugee resettlement at this year’s General Assembly session, and Mr. Ban issued a report on Monday calling on world leaders to rally around a new “compact on responsibility-sharing for refugees.” Read more.

ALERT: January 21, 2016
We Won! Anti-Refugee Bill Defeated With Your Help

Friends, You did it! Because of the countless calls, letters, and tweets you sent to Senators, the anti-refugee bill H.R. 4038 was blocked from being voted on in the Senate.
Earlier today, Senators voted 55-43 to keep this anti-refugee bill from proceeding. Had it passed the Senate, it would have ground to a halt the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the United States. While the vote was close, our voices were heard loud and clear that as people of faith and as Americans, we will not stand for any legislation that discriminates against vulnerable populations. Read full Alert.

Alert: January 21, 2016
Senate Vote is TODAY! Call Today for the Vote Today!

Disciples, Please Join with the Refugee Council, USA, & Our Faith Partners to Protect Refugees & the US Refugee Program NOW!!

The U.S. Senate plans to vote TODAY, Wednesday, January 20th on H.R. 4038, “The American Security against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act,” which would grind to a halt the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Read full Alert.

November 19, 2015
General Minister of Indiana-based denomination speaks up for refugees

“I understand Governor Pence’s instinct to protect the people of Indiana. That is his job, and I’m grateful he’s taking it seriously. But reflexively turning away victims of Syrian brutality is a short-sighted view of security,” said General Minister and President Sharon E. Watkins of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), based in Indianapolis. Watkins released a blog post with her thoughts on the recent declaration of Gov. Mike Pence and others that have called for Syrian refugees to be diverted from the state.

“I believe we, as a nation of immigrants and refugees, have a particular obligation to reach out a helping hand to those fleeing the ravages of war,” Watkins said. “We have the space and resources to relieve some of the pressure of millions of displaced persons in the Middle East and Europe.”

Global Ministries, a partnership between the Division of Overseas Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and Wider Church Ministries of the United Church of Christ, issued a statement on the refugee crisis on Nov. 17, Not Terrorists; Not Tourists; Refugees are Human Beings.

“As believers doing our best to follow the way of Jesus, the words of Matthew’s gospel call on us to be a people of welcome – ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,* you did it to me’ (Matthew 25:40),” Watkins said. “Fear of ‘the Other’ should not prevent us from compassion.”

More about Disciple efforts over the past five years on behalf of refugees is available on the Global Ministries Syria Crisis page.

November 18, 2015
Can States Reject Refugees?

View this video of Jen Smyers from Church World Service Refugee Program, answering questions on Fox Business regarding security checks for refugees.

November 17, 2015
Refugee Alert: Refugees are (and should be)  Securely Screened – but we can BOTH Work for SECURITY And offer COMPASSION TO REFUGEES!

“We must go out and stand tall in this time of crisis to send a counter message to messages of hate. And we must push back immediately against efforts aimed at resenting Syrian resettlement, and undermining the U.S. refugee program.”

Erol Kekic, Immigration and Refugee Program
Director, Church World Service

In the aftermath of France’s tragic attacks from “ISIS” and expressed ongoing threats, our hearts are broken and our prayers are deep. Yet we are also sad because we are experiencing pushback against refugees like never before. Most certainly, security for our own homeland is absolutely essential-and we continue to advocate for ongoing support for vigilant security screening of any refugees who enter our nation.  We know this closing of hearts comes at the same time Disciples from across the U.S. are donating to help Syrian and other refugees, and are offering Welcome Weekend events to build awareness of refugee needs. Read Alert.

November 17, 2015
Syrian Refugee Alert

Your faith voice is urgently needed: Tell Congress & Your Governor to WELCOME SYRIAN REFUGEES. As Disciples and others across the United States are donating to help Syrian refugees abroad, providing Refugee Hospitality Kits to new refugees, and volunteering to welcome refugees in their communities, a number of Governors recently announced that they want to stop their states from resettling Syrian refugees. This is morally reprehensible and goes against everything for which the United States stands. Some Members of Congress have even introduced legislation that would stop refugee resettlement altogether. It is critical for officials to hear from their constituents NOW as decisions are being made that will drastically impact the lives of Syrian refugees and refugee resettlement in the U.S. Please take action today! Read Alert.

Background on Syrian Refugee CrisisTalking Points About Refugees in Your Conversations with Church, Family, & Neighbors.

Disciples and United Church of Christ statement on Refugees — Not Terrorists; Not Tourists: Refugees are Human Beings.

A Call to Prayer and ActionADD YOUR OWN SIGN ON, IF YOU ARE CLERGY, to this letter to support refugees.  Our partners at Faith in Public Life initiated this opportunity for response—and signs ons are due BY END OF DAY ON WEDNESDAY, Eastern Time.

November 16, 2015
#AIDREFUGEES

Please see here in order to learn further about Syrian refugees—and especially to visit an interactive MAP which will show the refugee serving organizations nearest to you!  Then, also scroll down the page to ADD IN WAYS YOUR CHURCH HAS SUPPORTED REFUGEES recently.  Churches that have given Refugee Hospitality Kits, celebrated Welcome Weekend, and befriended refugees in other ways are encouraged to indicate your incredible hospitality at.  Finally, please consider showing the short but powerful virtual reality filmclip of a 12 year old Syrian refugee girl’s experience in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.  Go here to download the free and simple VRSE app, and then select “Clouds Over Sidra” to see the powerful clip!!

#RefugeesWelcome or #DisciplesRefugeesWelcome

Hold an Event for Welcoming Refugees

thru Worship, Education & Action!

Join faith communities around the country as soon as you can to show your support for refugees! Register to participate and see our full “Welcome Weekend Resources” of worship and background materials, along with exciting ways your community is needed NOW to advocate to support refugees!

View the map to see those who have registered and where events will be happening! If you have not register, we encouragement you to do so and be added to the map.

View our full “Welcome Weekend Resources” of worship and background materials, and exciting ways your community is needed NOW to advocate to support refugees.

Nov 2015 — Refugees Welcome Initiative Interfaith Immigration Coalition Webinar: PowerPoint Presentation and Audio Recording.

Oct 2015 – Responding to Humanitarian Crises: Syrian and Central American Refugees — Interfaith Immigration Coalition Webinar, October 19, 2015: PowerPoint Presentation and Audio Recording.

Refugee Council USA Congressional Visit Toolkit

Recommended Articles:

November 16, 2015
#AIDREFUGEES

Please see here in order to learn further about Syrian refugees—and especially to visit an interactive MAP which will show the refugee serving organizations nearest to you!  Then, also scroll down the page to ADD IN WAYS YOUR CHURCH HAS SUPPORTED REFUGEES recently.  Churches that have given Refugee Hospitality Kits, celebrated Welcome Weekend, and befriended refugees in other ways are encouraged to indicate your incredible hospitality at.  Finally, please consider showing the short but powerful virtual reality filmclip of a 12 year old Syrian refugee girl’s experience in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.  Go here to download the free and simple VRSE app, and then select “Clouds Over Sidra” to see the powerful clip!!

What kinds of security clearances are required by refugees?  Read these articles to learn about the multiple security and health checks ALL refugees must pass before entering the U.S.:

Fact Sheet: Refugee Resettlement in the United States — U.S. Department of State

November 14, 2015
As Paris Attacks Shift Public Opinion, How Can Christians Respond to Refugee Crisis?

by Kristin Wright, Open Doors USA | Saturday, November 14, 2015

Public opinion shifts with the wind, and views on Europe’s refugee crisis are no exception.

With last night’s brutal terrorist attacks in Paris, leaving 129 dead and hundreds more injured, perspectives toward Syrian refugees are becoming infused with fear. Calls to close borders to thousands of refugees are being heard around the world.

In the wake of the Paris attacks, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson have both called for a halt to U.S. plans to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees.

Poland is already responding to the attacks by rejecting EU migrant quotas, saying they will no longer accept refugees in the wake of the Paris attacks.

In the Netherlands, far-right leader Geert Wilders released a statement demanding, “Close the Dutch borders. Now! Protect the Dutch people. Stop turning away and denying.” It’s worth noting that Wilders’ Party of Freedom in the Netherlands has soared to mass popularity during Europe’s refugee crisis.

But just a few short months ago, on September 2, 2015, the image of little Aylan Kurdi’s body washed up on a shore in Turkey captured the attention of the world, sweeping public opinion toward sudden compassion for refugees. Quotas for refugee acceptance within Europe and the US began to rise as the pressure of public opinion inspired a welcome for refugees.

Now, the tide of public opinion is sweeping people in a different direction. Read more.

October 20, 2015
Statement in Support of Syrian Refugees

Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries of Disciples Home Missions, in partnership with the Middle East and Europe office of Global Ministries, submitted the following statement this week to inform the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee members of some of our key values related to Syrian refugee needs.  See the full text of the statement.

October 7, 2015
Pray for Jordan on Sunday, October 11

IMG_2635.jpgPrayers for Jordan:

For those wandering the desert, let us open our doors and offer a glass of water. Let us make a bed and share a meal. Let us reach deep into our pockets and honor our guests.

For those lost at sea, let us wade in the water meet them on the beaches. Let us comfort the children as they find their way far from home. Let us comfort the parents when they put their children into boats as the water becomes safer than land.

For those lost in the city, let us prepare spaces of light and warmth, so that those who have had their dignity turn to shreds have an opportunity to stitch it back together.

Oh God we pray this day for those who live with hunger, and for those that will not share their bread. We pray for those who are misunderstood, and those who misunderstand. We pray for those with lots to give and for those with little. We pray for those with heavy burdens and for those who help to carry it.

We pray for the hopeless, and for those for whom hope is all there is. Read more.

October 6, 2015
Syrian Refugee Alert (to hard copy)

Congratulations for the difference you are already making in ensuring our nation’s compassionate response to Syrian refugees! Now, WE NEED CLERGY AND OTHER FAITH LEADERS TO SIGN ON TO THIS FAITH LEADERS LETTER http://bit.ly/WelcomeAllRefugees IMMEDIATELY to support Syrian refugees!! Read the Alert.

Help Meet Urgent Refugee Emergency Needs Now

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is requested resettle 8 % of ALL refugees who enter through Church World Service offices, and Disciples have assisted in resettling more than 40,000 refugees through Church World Service since World War II. To do that, we partner with our 34 CWS refugee affiliate offices all around the U.S.  and Disciples have especially worked recently with refugee cultures from Iraq, Burma, Afghanistan, Somalia, Bhutan, Syria, and the Congo.

Due to multiple refugee crises in the world, we anticipate increasing refugee arrivals in the coming months.

CAN YOUR CHURCH HELP MEET THESE EMERGENCY REFUGEE NEEDS NOW?

  1. ALL CHURCHES are invited to participate as regions, congregations, youth or other groups to compile Refugee Hospitality Kits.
  2. CHURCHES WITHIN 50 MILES OF ANY PARTNER CWS OFFICE are urged to Pick 3 for Refugees to serve as a Welcoming Team for newly arriving refugee families!

Contact the Refugee & Immigration office  at sstanley@dhm.disciples.org or 202-957-7826 so we can support your efforts to link with nearby refugees.

For more information on the Hospitality Kits, the Pick 3 for Refugees, and view a map of were the CWS partner offices are located.

Pick 3 for RefugeesIf your congregation is interested to “Pick 3 for Refugees” and serve as a Welcoming Team with refugees, please contact our Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries office at sstanley@dhm.disciples.org or 202-957-7826 for a consult about your participation and families assigned to “Disciples of Christ” which are entering soon to locations nearest you!  Note: Churches within a 50 mile radius of any of our partner CWS offices are allowed to serve as Welcome Teams—but

Refugee Hospitality KitsIf your church, family, or group wishes to deliver Refugee Hospitality Kitsor other items to serve refugees entering nearest to you, see our list of partner offices, and contact that office. AND, so we can see and celebrate your story across our churches, PLEASE also contact our Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries office at sstanley@dhm.disciples.org, and share your pictures of your connections with refugees to help inspire others!

Refugee Story

Hussam Alroustom, a Syrian Refugee, fled Syria on March 23rd, 2013. After his house was shelled by a missile from the Syrian Army.  Read his story.

Kids to Kids: Syrian Refugees

“How would you feel if you weren’t allowed to live at home anymore? How would you feel if you weren’t allowed to live in the USA because people were being mean to you and hurting you? What other country would be a place you could live?”

This guide includes kid-friendly explanations of what it means to be a refugee as well as information specific to the Syrian refugee crisis. Children’s book recommendations and ways for kids to participate in hands-on missions are included.  View the full Refugees project guide.

October 1, 2015
DHM Statement in Support of Syrian Refugees

Disciples Home Missions Statement on Syrian Refugee Support to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary for the hearing on Oversight of the Administration’s FY 2016 Refugee Resettlement Program on Thursday, October 1, 2015.

September 29, 2015
Faith Leaders Urge U.S. Government to Increase Support for Syrian Refugees

Rev. Ron Degges and Syrian Asylee Qusai Zakarya on Capitol Hill

Rev. Ron Degges and Syrian Asylee Qusai Zakarya on Capitol Hill

On September 28th, Disciples Home Missions President Rev. Ronald Degges joined other faith partners on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to express the urgency for increased U.S. response and support for Syrian refugees. Degges commented, “I am grateful to be a part of a faith tradition that has spoken again and again—over the years through denominational resolutions, in recent months in a letter to the President, and just weeks ago as a national interfaith team of religious leaders—of our key faith value of welcoming the stranger despite religious or cultural background. We must welcome without exclusion, because we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves….America today is being called to fish from a different side of the boat—the side of abundant generosity and welcome—for the sake of all our sisters and brothers fleeing persecution and loss of life in Syria. Let us cast our nets over to this other side and be blessed as a world leader whose compassion reaches from the halls of government out to the streets where fleeing refugees are crying for help. There is a moral challenge directly before us. What are we waiting for?”

Speaking with Degges were ecumenical faith leaders, a Syrian refugee who survived horrific chemical poisoning, and Congressman David Cicilline (RI), who authored a recent congressional letter of 71+ leaders to the President requesting the U.S. resettle 100,000 Syrian refugees, in addition to 100,000 additional refugees, by the end of 2016.

See the full text of Rev. Degges’ statement, our Disciples Refugee Advocacy Alert (including a sign on letter with deadline of end of day this Wednesday) and continue to respond to help refugees nearest to your area through the Refugee Emergency Alert. Please contact our Refugee & Immigration Ministries office at sstanley@dhm.disciples.org or 202-957-7826 for additional questions and suggestions for how you can help.

September 11, 2015
The politics of the Syrian refugee crisis, explained

by Janell Ross, The Washington Post

The Syrian refugee crisis is big, big news around the world. And on Thursday, it became a reality in the United States, as the White House announced a decision to accept up to 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year.
As the White House acts, precisely what should be done for Syria’s refugees has also become an issue on the 2016 campaign trail, with Democratic White House contenders Hillary Clinton and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley as well as Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) saying this week that the United States should accept many more Syrian refugees, CBS News reported. Read more.

For International Refugee Background
 Assisting Syrian Refugees in the U.S.
Advocacy for Syrian Refugees in the U.S.:  Your Voice is Needed to Help the U.S. Provide Welcome!:

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