WILLS POINT, TX – June 20th is World Refugee Day. The annual observation is particularly important this year as we are currently facing the worst refugee crisis in recorded history.
Measuring the Problem
According to the UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, at least 68.5 million people around the globe have been displaced from their homes. That is equal to the population of France. More than 25.4 million have attempted to flee to other countries. Those 25.4 million are classified as refugees.
A refugee is a person who has fled his home country to escape persecution, war, famine, disease. A vast majority have fled because of ethnic, tribal, or religious violence.
More than three million refugees are seeking asylum in other countries. (Missions Box News believes, but has been unable to confirm, that people fleeing from Venezuela are included in these numbers.)
Five countries – Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar, and Somalia – account for about two-thirds of all refugees worldwide.
Missing the Point
The refugee crisis has morphed into a mess of sentimental and emotional response. Many people, Christians included, do not understand the practical problems of caring for refugees. Unfortunately, some people have linked “immigration” inextricably with the refugee crisis as the same issue. Though related, they are not actually related as closely as many suppose.
Individuals, especially Christians, should have compassion for refugees. History has proven time and time again, that compassion often extends only to pressuring the government to allow all refugees to immigrate freely.
All countries have immigration laws. They are generally intended to protect the general welfare of the country and its citizens. Our national infrastructure must be able to support the rapid influx of asylum seekers. Where are they going to live? Will they be able to find a job? Will they need welfare assistance? How will they afford healthcare? All these questions need to be addressed by elected and appointed authorities.
It is not our individual responsibility to petition or protest the government regulations or processes for immigration. Those are established by legislation and rules.
Ministering to Refugees
Our responsibility is to care for those who are in need once they arrive in our local communities, just as we would with other Americans displaced by storms, floods, and other natural disasters.
The unfortunate truth is that, when refugees do arrive in our communities, they often experience prejudice and even ridicule from the same people who claimed to be so compassionate.
I have personally witnessed people, who claimed to be compassionate toward refugees, intentionally mistreat them on a personal basis when they attempt to integrate into our local communities. It happened after World War II with Polish refugees, in 1956 with Hungarian refugees, and later with the Vietnamese.
Our place is not on a picket line. It is being a neighbor and loving our neighbor as ourselves.
To read more news on World Refugee Day on Missions Box, go here.
- UNHCR, Refugee Facts
- Mercy Corps, The world’s 5 biggest refugee crises
- World Vision, Forced to flee: Top countries refugees are coming from