Over the past few days, the world is focusing with great intensity on the tragedy of refugees fleeing upheaval in Syria and other countries to Europe. But there is a much larger story playing out in the countries surrounding Syria and Iraq who have absorbed most of the 3.9 million refugees - more than half of them children. Studies indicate that more than 60% of Syrian refugee children are suffering from depression and 40% have full Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Catholic Relief Services is working with refugees, mostly women and children, who are largely hidden in the news but who are suffering the most from the civil war in Syria and the rise of ISIS. CRS is providing support to more than 700,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and Iraq. Programs to help children get beyond their trauma are among our key areas of focus.
CRS is responding to this latest phase of the crisis by scaling up our response in Europe. Working in partnership with the Church in Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Serbia, CRS is providing living supplies such as food, shelter, sleeping bags and mats, hygiene packages, and clean water.
The Holy Father has called on every Catholic parish and religious community in Europe to take in one refugee family. How can Catholics in the U.S. also respond to the call to be a beacon of hope to the world?
Seven things you can do to help
1. Learn More
The more you learn about this crisis, the more you’ll understand its underlying causes and can spread the word. Continued warfare in Syria, and violence in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, has contributed to the surge of refugees from those countries, while deteriorating economic conditions in places like Sub-Saharan Africa has led people to Europe in search of a better life.
Here are some good resources for you.
- CRS’ support of Syrian refugees
- The Washington Post features 6 Syrians making the journey to Europe
- Refugee or Migrant? (From the United Nations High Commission on Refugee
One of the best ways to help is through donating to accredited nonprofit organizations that are responding to the crisis. More than 90 percent of money donated to CRS goes directly to people in need. Donate now.
You can provide direct assistance by setting up a page to raise money to support our emergency efforts. Your support will ensure that we can provide immediate assistance, including food, water, access to sanitation, legal services and medical care. Set up your own fundraising page.
CRS is calling on the United States to continue and expand humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees, especially to countries in the Middle East, that have for years been sheltering the largest number of Syrians and Iraqis, as well as to countries burdened by this new migration. Most importantly, the United States should lead concerted diplomatic efforts to end the fighting in Syria. Read more about how our nation's leaders can respond to the crisis, and write a letter urging them to take up the cause.
Please keep migrants and refugees everywhere close in your thoughts. They are far from home and will need your prayers and support every step of the way.
5. Use Social Media
Follow and retweet @CatholicRelief, @CRSNews, @CBrennanCRS, @KimPoz and @ngamer19 on Twitter for the latest updates on the #RefugeeCrisis that’s reached Europe. Also, share this image on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or any other social media to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters.
Pray for protection for refugees—particularly those fleeing Northern Africa for Europe—as well as for personal transformation as we face the needs of refugees everywhere, by using this Prayer for Refugees.