The conflict in Syria has caused the largest displacement crisis in the world – there are over 4.8 million registered refugees and an estimated 6.3 million internally displaced people (IDP) within Syria, including 4.9 millions people in need trapped in besieged and hard-to-reach areas, where they are exposed to serious protection threats (UNOCHA).
In Iraq there are approximately 250,000 Syrian refugees and 3.2 million internally displaced people due to conflict and ISIS occupation. ISIS maintain control over certain areas where they enforce brutal control; certain groups face persecution, gender based violence is experienced, and children may be influenced by radical ideologies and violence.
Families have fled their homes because it is simply too dangerous to stay. For many who have been displaced by the conflict, it is not safe to return home. The humanitarian situation is dire in IDP camps and informal settlements and the cities that have been decimated by the fighting.
Syrians and Iraqis will continue to embark on dangerous journeys across borders in search of safety as long as they face the daily threat of being abused, tortured or killed.
Refugees process by the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR may be resettled in a third country, however this is a small proportion and most will stay in the region. Less than 10% of Syrians who have fled the conflict sought safety in Europe (UNHCR). Developing countries are doing the heaviest lifting, with 86% of refugees residing in low- and middle-income countries. At least 480,000 people in the five main host countries are in need of resettlement (Amnesty International).
An increased focus on border controls in Europe, America and Australia means that those seeking safety can often remain in countries where they lack legal rights to work, attend school or access essential services (Refugee Council of Australia).
In total, 224,694 resettlement and other admission pathways have been pledged globally since the start of the Syria crisis, which equates to a mere 4.7% of the total population of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and Turkey (Amnesty International).
At the end of 2015 there were 107,000 resettlement places offered – representing just 0.66% of the 16.1 million refugees under the UNHCR’s mandate (Refugee Council of Australia).
As people seeking safety are increasingly blocked at borders, they are resorting to even more dangerous means to have a chance to save their families and find hope for the future.
There is a sense that insecurity is causing division among nations as governments close borders to prevent a surge of refugees and to combat fears of importing terrorism (ABC).
Syrian refugees seeking safety in Europe is resulting in political division as countries argue over sharing the burden (EUObserver). There have been accusations of abuse at borders in Hungary and Greece and dire conditions for refugees in the Greek Islands (HRW). Closure of the asylum seeker camp in Calais, France, which involved violent clashes, highlighted the need for strategy and process to manage refugee claims and avoid the inhumane conditions that existed in the camp (The Guardian).
Arriving in a new country: Governments will often provide (in partnership with agencies) a range of settlement services for refugees in the initial period of settlement. A package of services may include things such as someone meeting refugees when they arrive, helping finding suitable accommodation, and assistance registering for services and navigating health services, banking, and schools. The challenges faced by newly arrived families can be numerous and varied as they are faced with the task of navigating a new culture and community, while recovering from the trauma associated with leaving home.
THE COLOUR SISTERHOOD RESPONSE.
“WELCOME HOME”: Local Impact Project
Whenever we gather as a sisterhood, we seek to make a felt difference in the local community. This will take on a unique expression in each location where we gather around the world. This year, we want to uphold the value and dignity of refugees and show the love of Christ by sharing a message of “welcome home” through helping to meet the practical needs of settling into their new homes.
Refer to the Local Impact project fact sheet for more information.
“SPEAK UP”: Advocacy Action
As a Sisterhood pursuing justice, we pray, we give, and we seek to use what is in our hand, which includes using our voice and speaking up! We have prepared an ‘ADVOCACY TOOLKIT’ to help equip you to meet with your local government representative and share what you and your local church stand for on issues related to refugees.
Refer to the Advocacy project fact sheet for more information.
Local Impact Project