Tag: refugees

Refugees at highest ever level, reaching 65m, says UN

The number of people displaced by conflict is at the highest level ever recorded, the UN refugee agency says.


This woman and her child have fled Boko Haram violence in Niger and are living in a refugee camp

It estimates that 65.3m people were either refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced at the end of 2015, an increase of 5m in a year.

This represents one in every 113 people on the planet, the UN agency says.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee chief says a worrying “climate of xenophobia” has taken hold in Europe as it struggles to cope with the migrant crisis.

The influx of people, the biggest since World War Two, has led to greater support for far-right groups and controversial anti-immigration policies.


Turkey hosts more refugees than any other country in the world


Europe has introduced a number of measures to curb the influx of migrants and refugees

In its annual report marking World Refugee Day, the UN said it was the first time the number of refugees worldwide had passed the 60m mark.

Over half of the total comes from just three countries: Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia.

UN report on refugees

65.3m people are refugees, asylum seekers or displaced, that’s 1 in 113 of all people on the planet

12.4m were newly displaced by conflict or persecution in 2015

24 people a minute were forced to flee in 2015

54% of refugees came from just 3 countries: Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia

Half of all refugees are children under 18

Despite the huge focus on Europe’s migrant crisis, the UN said 86% of the world’s refugees were being sheltered in low and middle income countries.

Turkey is the biggest host country for refugees worldwide, with 2.5m people, followed by Pakistan and Lebanon.

More than 1,011,700 migrants arrived in Europe by sea last year, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), although other agencies put that number much higher.

Some 35,000 arrived by land, the IOM said.

The preferred destinations for most of them were richer northern countries like Germany and Sweden.

This is reflected in the UN’s figures for new asylum applications in 2015, which show that Germany was the largest single recipient, followed by the United States and Sweden.

Most Syrian refugees in Turkey are covered by the Turkish government’s temporary protection scheme so do not count as asylum claimants.


Thousands of people continue to make dangerous journeys in trying to reach Europe

‘Climate of xenophobia’

The European migration crisis has caused significant political rifts within the EU, with some states inside the border-free Schengen area putting up fences and re-imposing frontier controls.

The European bloc reached an agreement with Turkey in an attempt to limit the mass movement of people into the EU, a deal that has been heavily criticised by human rights groups.

In separate remarks, the UN refugee chief said European leaders needed to do more to coordinate policies and to combat negative stereotypes about refugees.

“Those who do the opposite, who stir up public opinion against refugees and migrants, have a responsibility in creating a climate of xenophobia that is very worrying in today’s Europe,” Filippo Grandi told AFP news agency.

He said it was unfortunate that some decisions taken by the EU to handle the crisis “were not implemented”, calling it “a missed opportunity”.

Source: BBC News

Christians at risk of being wiped out in Iraq and Syria amid intense persecution from ISIS

Erika Pilones 05 MAY, 2016

Christians in Iraq and Syria face the risk of extinction due to actions of genocide suffered from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Many Christian churches in Syria and Iraq are reportedly being destroyed by the extreme Islamic group. Millions of their members are forced to flee their hometowns as refugees, while those who left behind are killed.


(Reuters/Omar Sanadiki) A Syrian national flag flutters next to the Islamic State’s slogan at a roundabout where executions were carried out by ISIS militants in the city of Palmyra, in Homs Governorate, Syria in this April 1, 2016 file photo.

Many of these churches have been around for thousands of years already. As Juliana Taimoorazy, executive director and founder of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council, stressed in an interview with National Catholic Register, “We gave a lot to Christianity as Eastern Christians, and we gave a lot to humanity as the Assyrian people: Our history is 6,700 years old, and we established the first library in the world, among other contributions.”

The Roman Catholic Church is also one of the religious groups that condemns the displacement of many Christian communities. In Nineveh Plains in Iraq for instance, more than 100,000 Christians have been forced to flee since the Islamic State occupied the region.

Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, said, according to Christian Post, that these Christians have been forcibly relocated and threatened, and they now worry about their survival.

Still, some leaders of the Catholic religious group, including Bishop Yousif Habash of Syrian Catholic Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance based in New Jersey, believe that even though ISIS may take away everything from the Christians, there is one thing that they cannot take away, and that is their faith.

Many religious groups and leaders have called for people to pray for the persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria, specifically for their survival. Taimoorazy further reflected that after survival, they will also need restoration and then rebuilding.

Father Douglas al-Bazi, a priest who has experienced the wrath of ISIS, warned people of the dangers to come, saying in an interview with Christian Post that the word “genocide” is an understatement. The Islamic State is not only cooking a one-time event. They are rather trying to change history by wiping out an entire people group.

Source: Christian Post

Encouragement focus

Prayers for those who are oppressed and going through hardship and bereavement. Especially remembering those who have been displaced from their homes and have lost possessions and livelihood.


UK church leaders visit Greece-Macedonia border to meet refugees and express solidarity

Senior UK Church leaders and representatives have just returned from Idomeni, on the Greek-Macedonia (FYROM) border, where they met some of the thousands of refugees fleeing conflict.

The group, part of a Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) delegation, also held discussions with local volunteers and activists, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representatives, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Médecins du Monde, and local government officials.


A young girl walks through the chaos enveloping the border crossing between Greece and Macedonia

The delegation was welcomed as a high mission and is the first of any kind from the UK to see the situation on the ground first-hand. In Athens it met with the UK Ambassador to Greece, the Interim Minister for the Interior, the Head of the UNHCR Mission in Greece and the Greek Church’s Ecumenical Refugee Programme (KSPM).

Revd. Bob Fyffe, General Secretary of CTBI, said:

“What we saw and heard was shocking and savage. The refugees carry their lives in plastic bags. Many are at the mercy of brutal smuggling gangs. How is that choice?

“Aid workers warned us that border closures would result in humanitarian disaster. Sadly, we now see this prophecy unfolding across Europe.

“As winter approaches, transit tents, temporary toilets and showers are finally being erected at Idomeni. But volunteers have been working with refugees in this area for two years with barely any support. This is a scandal.”

The unofficial border opening at Idomeni has seen up to 4,000 mainly Syrian refugees pass through every day on their way to Serbia and northern Europe.

Bishop Anba Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK, and Moderator of CTBI, said:

“We saw the incredible desperation of refugees who were willing to risk journeys in what they themselves called ‘death boats’ as a means of escape; but we also saw the dedication of those who serve them, many of whom are volunteers.

“We stand united with and for those working tirelessly to protect the God-given human rights of these refugees, and those who save the lives of many forced to make this perilous journey.

“The preservation of dignity and protection of the vulnerable is our common cause.

“As more borders close, refugees who have already sacrificed almost everything will still find alternate routes because they have nothing to lose. In anticipation, we must collaborate to formulate a coherent and humane response.”

Rt. Revd. David Hamid, Church of England Suffragan Bishop in Europe, said:

“One of the refugees said: ‘In Syria we have a quick death with the bombs – but here on the road we have a slow death’. We must ensure ongoing safety and security is given to these refugees.

“A powerful unity emerged during the visit and a shared vision of working together to preserve human dignity and save lives. A future partnership is being forged dedicated to the spiritual and moral shared duties of protecting God-given human rights.”

The inter-Church delegation visited the border area on Tuesday, September 15 and has called for:

An alternative to border closures to mitigate against exploitation and allow safe passage

Concrete measures to prevent exploitation by organised criminals, traffickers and smugglers

Greater collaboration within and between states and agencies to support refugees

Support to create large-scale emergency reception, assistance and registration efforts in the countries most impacted by arrivals

More support for UNHCR proposals for purpose-built transit camps and central registration points in the Greek islands

As winter fast approaches, efforts to support refugees need to be increased in order to avoid an even worse human catastrophe

Whilst we are encouraged by the steps taken by HM Government to allow some entry from refugee camps, we stress the need to open our borders to receive some of the refugees now risking their lives to reach safety



Please pray for these Christian refugees (part 1)

One of our friends recently travelled as part of a team from Northern Ireland to Jordan to meet face to face with Christian refugees and bring them practical aid. A secondary objective of the trip was to bring back ‘stories’ from individuals and families so that Christians in the West can have faces and names to pray for and support practically. Pictured below is Abu with his wife and five children, who had to leave their home town of Mosul in Iraq when ISIS attacked.

Abu with his wife and five children, escaped with their lives to Jordan when ISIS attacked their home town of Mosul

The family had been living in Amman for nine months at the time of our visit. Our team was truly blessed by meeting this family and there was a joy that filled their home.

Before leaving Iraq, Abu worked in a tax office in Mosul. He explained that Mosul was one of the first places to be attacked by ISIS. When the threat to their family became too great they fled in their car and then sold it along with any gold that they had to buy their plane tickets to come to Jordan. They thank God that other family members managed to flee as well. The family believe that God took them out of Mosul at the right time. Their house has been blown up but they are thankful that they only lost material good while others lost their lives.

Abu is now teaching voluntarily in the Latin school in Amman. This school is a part of the Latin Church and is for Iraqi children.


Below is a short audio interview with a member of the team from Northern Ireland who met with Abu and other Christian refugees in Jordan.


Please remember: These Iraqi refugees are not allowed to work in Jordan. This poses a huge problem as they are living off what money they managed to bring with them to pay for necessities such as rent and food. Their resources will soon run out and in some cases it already has. They are currently waiting for the UN to place them permanently in a country where they can build a new life for their children.

We may not be able to solve the whole refugee crises, but we can help these Christians who are taking temporary refuge in Jordan.

For this Refugee Campaign, Friends In The West will work through trusted partners to bring 100% of the aid you give to these Christian refugees in Jordan. Please do what you can to alleviate their suffering and also pray that they may soon have a permanent home where they can start to rebuild their lives.

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