Rising Refugee Numbers Require New Action
Christian World Service is deeply concerned about the continuing rise in the number of refugees and displaced people.
Ahead of World Refugee Day on 20 June, the United Nations announced a staggering 79.5 million or one in 97 people displaced, up from 70.8 million the year before. The UN recorded 29.6 million refugees in its 2019 figures. Five countries account for two-thirds of people who have crossed borders to escape violence and persecution: Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar. “With no resolution in sight, these conflict zones are likely to push more people from their homes, increasing levels of trauma and suffering. Covid-19 has not stopped conflict and is one more risk they face,” says Pauline McKay, National Director.Some 80 per cent of countries hosting displaced people are facing acute food insecurity, malnutrition, and climate and other disaster risk.
“These figures are a clear signal to the international community to focus on peace talks and reducing military spending as the world cannot afford the costs of providing refuge or resettlement for so many people,” she adds.
CWS partners are doing everything they can to protect displaced people from Covid-19, hunger, and danger. They are providing personal protective equipment, emergency food supplies and advice on Covid-19. The refugees and displaced people have been sharing food and information about protection within their communities in Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Nicaragua and South Sudan.
New Zealand churches mark Refugee Sunday on 21 June (Methodist and Presbyterian) and 5 July (Anglicans). CWS has prepared resource material that features the story of Osama, a Palestinian refugee from Syria who shares his passion for music with young students in Lebanon.
“It is understandable that New Zealand cannot resettle refugees when our borders are closed. However, we need to increase our financial commitment to the UN and other agencies doing all they can to keep them safe from harm,” she adds.
CWS is raising funds to support refugees through Operation Refugee with optional walking and food related challenges. It runs until November 30.
New Zealand churches have played a significant role in resettling refugees in New Zealand especially through the then National Council of Churches.
New Zealand as a signatory to the United Nations Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.
June 19, 2020