'Syrian Refugees'

Human Trafficking: A Global Assault on Human Dignity

Posted on 02. Jan, 2017 by .


Images of migrants drowning in the Mediterranean have shocked the world in recent years—sparking conversation, inspiring political summits and challenging the collective responsibility of the global community to refugees. But behind the images not seen and the headlines not written are stories of exploitation that refugees risk at every step of their journey to safety.

Nobody knows these stories better than grassroots activists like Sister Gabriella Bottani, S.M.C., and her Talitha Kum sisters, an international network of religious sisters that works against human trafficking, or modern-day slavery.

“Our hearts bleed when we see those pictures. The irony is that those who survive often become unfortunate victims of trafficking—their attempt to improve their lives turns out to be dehumanizing and can lead to their deaths,” Sister Bottani said, speaking to 150 faith-based activists at the International Conference on Human Trafficking within and from Africa. The conference was hosted by Caritas Internationalis and the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People in Abuja, Nigeria, in September.

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Syrian Crisis Charity Navigator

Posted on 27. Aug, 2016 by .


The following is from Charity Navigator:

syria-3-580As the Syrian conflict enters its fifth year, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that it now represents the largest displacement crisis in the world, with over half the population forced out of their homes. Of the 13.5 million people requiring humanitarian aid, 4.3 million live as refugees in nearby countries — including Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan — while another 6.5 million remain inside Syria. Nearly half the people affected by the conflict — 5.6 million — are children. The Syrians displaced by the ongoing civil war depend upon humanitarian aid for food, clothing and shelter. The highly-rated charities listed here are providing these services and more (such as medical assistance and schooling for children).

Be sure to consider what it is that you want your donation to accomplish and to find a charity offering that specific type of aid. To do that, simply click on the charity’s name and view its rating page (where you can learn about its Financial Health, Accountability & Transparency). Once you are satisfied with its rating, then you can go to the charity’s website (we link to each charity’s site from its ratings page) to learn more specifically about the type of assistance the charity is providing in relation to the Syrian crisis.

Snapshot of the Crisis

13.5 million   People in Need of Humanitarian Assistance in Syria
5.6 million   Children Affected by the Crisis in Syria
6.5 million   Internally Displaced Persons in Syria
4.3 million   Syrians Displaced to Neighboring Countries

Data Source: UN OCHA

The requirements for this featured list of charities are as follows:

1. The charity has been rated by Charity Navigator, currently has a 3-star or 4-star rating, and is not on Charity Navigator’s Watchlist.
2. The charity’s website includes a description of the planned response and type of relief it is or will be providing (direct services, funding other organizations, etc.).
3. The charity’s website provides clear instructions for how donors can designate their gift to this specific crisis.
4. The charity’s website does not state that a portion of designated donations will be used elsewhere (for future crises, for a different program, etc.).

American Refugee Committee  
Catholic Relief Services  
Global Hope Network International  
Helping Hand for Relief and Development  
International Rescue Committee  
Islamic Relief USA  
Mercy-USA for Aid and Development  
Oxfam America  
Palestine Children’s Relief Fund  
United States Fund for UNICEF

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Pope Brings Refugee Families to the Vatican

Posted on 12. Jun, 2016 by .


ANSA990320_LancioGrande(Vatican Radio) Hassan Zahida and his wife Nour appear dazed and almost unbelieving they are finally safe. Their two-year-old little boy is happily making mud-cakes and  playing with pebbles – just like any other child in the world.

They are one of the three families who boarded the plane in Greece with Pope Francis on Saturday at the end of his visit to Lesbos. Here in Rome they are hosted by the Saint Egidio Community that obtained “humanitarian visas” to allow them to make the journey and that is taking care of logistics and helping them find their feet as their requests for asylum are being processed.

Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni met them at Saint Egidio premises and asked them to share their feelings as they prepare to hopefully set the foundations for a life of “normality”.

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Pope Gives the U.S. an Example of How to Treat Syrian Refugees

Posted on 01. May, 2016 by .


The following is from Crux

Pope Francis greets Syrian refugees he brought to Rome from the Greek island of Lesbos, at Ciampino airport in Rome April 16, 2016. The pope concluded his one-day visit to Greece by bringing 12 Syrian refugees to Italy aboard his flight. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See POPE-LESBOS-FLIGHT April 16, 2016.

Pope Francis greets Syrian refugees he brought to Rome from the Greek island of Lesbos, at Ciampino airport in Rome April 16, 2016. The pope concluded his one-day visit to Greece by bringing 12 Syrian refugees to Italy aboard his flight. April 16, 2016.

About one week after the April 8 release of Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia, it could be said that he offered a sequel to that document – not in words, but in actions, by visiting Syrian refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos, and then bringing 12 of them with him on the papal flight back to Rome.

In the exhortation, the pope wrote that “Jesus himself was born into a modest family that soon had to flee to a foreign land,” and the pontiff called on every family to “look to the icon of the Holy Family of Nazareth.”

On April 16, Pope Francis did just that, meeting with hundreds of Syrian refugees at Lesbos who had fled war in their homeland. Leaders of two U.S. Catholic agencies playing leading roles in refugee resettlement hope that the pope’s gestures will change people’s hearts toward refugees, and spur more compassionate government policies.

William Canny, the executive director of Migration and Refugee Services of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called the pope’s actions on Lesbos “a good example for all of us,” for individual Americans and for policy makers.

“He’s getting up close to people and children, hugging and touching them, and showing us these are human beings, each one,” Canny said.

“When he does those things, it helps us cut through our privileged veneer, and helps us realize we are all children of God, we are all equal, and we are all made in the image and likeness of God,” said Canny, whose agency assisted in the resettlement of 22,000 refugees in the United States last year, more than 25 percent of all refugees who came into the country.

Dominican Sister Donna Markham, the president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, also praised the “powerful witness” of Pope Francis in visiting the refugees and then offering a safe haven to some of them.

“Hopefully, his actions will move the hearts of people of good will, including our legislators, to do more than we currently are to help these suffering people,” she said.

Catholic Charities has been serving immigrants and refugees in the United States for more than 100 years. Markham noted that 66 Catholic Charities agencies across the country are involved in initial refugee resettlement services and another 78 agencies have post-settlement programs. Those programs help with housing, legal services, language proficiency, trauma counseling, and employment training.

“Our Catholic Charities agencies do their best to help them, regardless of nationality or religion,” she said. According to Catholic Charities USA, its network of agencies served 69,045 refugees in initial and post-resettlement aid in 2014, and helped 17,424 refugees achieve self-sufficiency.

Canny said he hoped that the pope’s gestures would impact how citizens and government officials regard refugees.

“I would hope it would reverse the current trend of Europe not opening its doors to refugees,” he said. “For our part in the U.S., I hope it will help us realize how we should be acting vis-à-vis taking them into our country and our communities.”

Markham, noting that “for understandable reasons, the U.S. government’s rules for allowing Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the country have become more stringent than for many other nationalities seeking asylum,” said she hopes some balance can be restored.

“My hope is that our government can implement procedures that are both diligent but also more efficient in screening persons who are at imminent risk,” she said, adding, “fear of refugees cannot eclipse our compassion.”

Canny said people’s fears are legitimate, but it’s important to educate them about the plight of refugees and about steps being taken to block the entry of potential terrorists.

“You have to help people understand what’s going on, so they can deal with their fears,” he said.

The numbers of Syrian refugees entering the United States are relatively small. Canny noted the United States had committed to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees this fiscal year, but halfway through the year, less than 2,000 have entered the country.

He also pointed out that the United Nations estimates that more than 4 million Syrians have fled their country in recent years, and about 10 percent of them, 400,000 people who have escaped the violence and devastation there, are refugees in urgent need of resettlement.

The United States can do a better job of welcoming those refugees into the country at a faster rate, “and I expect in the next few months, we will,” Canny said.

“I think we’re caught up in the presidential election cycle,” he said. “I’m hoping that when we get through [it], and the political situation settles down, and when people and leadership are more educated on the situation, we’ll take in more Syrian refugees.”

Markham, who has traveled to Iraq on two occasions and visited displaced Christians there, and who has also been to refugee camps in Lebanon, spoke about the agonizing wait that some refugees and displaced persons face.

“Recently, an Iraqi Catholic family fleeing from Qaraqosh, Iraq, was told it would take at least two years before their case would be heard. Meanwhile, they live in camps in Lebanon and in Kurdistan,” she said.

“Clearly, when lives are endangered, it is profoundly upsetting to learn that it will take that long even to be considered.”

Canny said that personal encounters with refugees, like Pope Francis had in Lesbos, help others understand and empathize with their experience.

While some might regard refugees as helpless and suffering, Canny said the refugees he has met are hard-working, motivated people, who are concerned about their children’s future, especially in helping them get a good education, something that is especially lacking in refugee camps.

Like earlier waves of immigrants to the United States, Canny said, refugees bring a strong work ethic and contribute to the ongoing evolution of the United States as a country enriched by its diverse peoples from many ethnic backgrounds.

“They come to work and participate,” he said.

While the 24-hour news cycle of images of the pope’s visit to Lesbos may be fading, Canny said he’s confident that Pope Francis will continue spotlighting refugees and our need to welcome them.

“The Holy Father keeps going back and providing us with reminders,” Canny said. “His intent is to keep this issue, and the plight of people, in front of us. He’s putting mercy and compassion in front of us.”

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Syria: 5 Years in 60 seconds

Posted on 08. Feb, 2016 by .


Global UNICEF and multiple partners created this video. This is a VERY powerful 60 second visual summary of the Syrian Crisis.

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