Many New Zealand churches will remember the plight of refugees in services this Sunday (22 June) or in the Anglican tradition on 6 July.
Christian World Service has produced resources to help.
International Programmes Coordinator Trish Murray returned last week from Jordan, Lebanon and Israel Palestine where she met Syrian and Palestinian refugees, and with CWS partner the Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees (DSPR). She saw the importance of involving highly skilled refugees in DSPR’s programmes and the need to help women shouldering responsibility for their extended family while worrying about husbands and sons in Syria or dealing with their loss.
“Education was one of the highest priorities. I met a woman in Lebanon who had sent her two sons back to Damascus in Syria by bus to sit the baccalaureate exam. She was deeply worried, but had decided her sons had to sit the exam to have a future,” says Trish Murray.
World Refugee Day (20 June) is a time to celebrate the survival skills of refugees who often navigate large scale violence and suffering to escape a terrible situation. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports there are 43.3 million people of concern.Countries which host refugees deserve greater financial support. New Zealand has a quota of 750 refugees which it does not always fill. Lebanon with a population of 4.4 million is now hosting more than one million refugees.
“Together churches around the world support people who have fled homes and countries because of violence, war and discrimination. They run camps, and provide food, water, shelter, healthcare, education, psycho-social help and more, where it is needed. As members of the ACT Alliance, they meet the highest levels of beneficiary involvement,” says Pauline McKay, National Director.
CWS thanks churches and supporters for their help in providing vital help to vulnerable refugees. The Christian tradition has always had a special concern for displaced people. In many parts of the world they run vital support programmes, providing shelter, food, water, psycho social support.
DSPR was established in 1948 to work with the refugees. They are very aware of the tensions between the refugees and host communities so are deliberately working to foster understanding and make sure there is a place for everyone.
Donations to the Syria Appeal can be made here or sent to PO Box 22652, Christchurch 8140 or by calling 0800 74 73 72.