In the News: Where The World’s Refugees Are
Every few months, I try and find an article that does a good job of highlighting the present state of the refugee situation either globally or here in the United States.
Back in March, NPR did an excellent job parsing out some of the most recent numbers from the United Nations and sticking some charts with it. It’s worth a read, if you are attempting to keep up with the state of refugees (and you should be).
Here are some quick highlights from the article:
The refugee numbers are showing no signs of slowing down at this point.
“The flow of refugees is steadily increasing, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR). As of mid-2016, there were 16.5 million refugees globally, 5 million more than in mid-2013. More than 30 percent of all refugees as of mid-2016 came from Syria, the largest source of global refugees.”
I harp on this all the time, but this means something for the Great Commission. Missions agencies and local churches alike are currently faced with a “such a time as this” moment. There is much that can be done, even from a distance, to both meet needs and share the gospel with people in major transition.
Ask your church leadership to consider what you can do. Church leaders, seek out mission agencies (for us Southern Baptists, it’s the IMB) and find out how you can partner effectively with efforts that may be ongoing.
Only three countries are currently bearing the brunt of the world’s refugees.
“The UNHCR report, released in March, shows that Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey hosted most of the world’s refugees as of mid-2016 — a combined total of 5.4 million.”
The situations in each country are very different. Turkey’s refugees are mostly from Syria. Pakistan’s are mostly from Afghanistan. Turkey actually offers a path to citizenship for some refugees, while Pakistan does no such thing. Regardless, these countries struggle under the weight of a massive burden of people. For many refugees, the goal is to move past these places to an area that is not so strapped to help them.
But new refugees do not all want to come to America (or the West).
“There’s a misconception that refugees want to come to the U.S. to get jobs or go to our shopping malls,” says Chris Boian, a UNHCR spokesperson. “But they want to stay as close to their homes as possible so that they can return to their lives as soon as they are able to do so.”
Those of us in the US who are currently treating immigration (and especially the refugee crisis) like a political football desperately need to wrap our minds around the quote above. Most refugees do not want to move to America, the ones who come do so because they could not stay at home. Remember, refugees are forced away from their home. By definition, the vast majority of these people are not just trying to ride America’s coat tails, as some would lead us to believe.
And even if they were (and all the data and personal stories I have heard say they are not), do the Great Commandment and Great Commission not still apply to people with poor motives? Fact is, the Christian ethic of love and testifying to the gospel should be consistent even when others are not.
There are actually more internally displaced people than refugees.
While we talk a lot about refugees (and we should) there are many more people who have been displaced from their homes by war or other means but are still in their country of origin. These people are called “internally displaced.” There are currently over 16 million refugees globally. That is a huge number. However, there are over 63 million internally displaced peoples.
This is a historical moment of crisis globally, and our Christian witness is on the line concerning how we respond.
You can read the full article here: