REFUGEE CRISIS EXACERBATED BY RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION

REFUGEE CRISIS EXACERBATED BY RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION

Religious persecution plays a “central role” in the global displacement crisis according to Open Doors 2017 World Watch List. The charity noted that more than half of the world’s 65.3m refugee population come from Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria, all countries in which it has become extremely dangerous to identify as a Christian. In its supplementary report, The Persecution of Christians and Global Displacement, Open Doors said that religious persecution was a “dangerously underestimated” factor behind some people’s decision to flee their homes. The charity estimated that around half of Syria’s 1.7m Christians have left their country due to conflict and persecution. It also said that around 2.1m Nigerians have fled because of various factors, including attacks on Christians by Boko Haram jihadists.

In Asia and Mexico, Christians were driven from their villages for practising a faith differed from that of the majority. Pastor Aminu Sule from Nigeria said his congregation had shrunk from 400 to 20 as Christians fled from attacks by Boko Haram. He said: “I can’t count the number of people I have buried.” Once displaced, Pastor Sule said that Christians are often denied access to aid distributed by the local government. “They are dying of hunger and I cannot help them,” he said. Daniel, a church leader in Iraq, described how he fled from Baghdad after receiving a death threat from Al-Qaeda. His church has helped look after some of the 120,000 Christians chased out by Islamic State, but he added that many had since chosen to be resettled in “countries that respect their human rights”.

The report found some migrants were attacked after leaving their countries, and cited a Nigerian Christian who was abducted and repeatedly assaulted by a gang who had seen a Bible in his pocket. The charity urged the British government to support the right to freedom of religion and belief and to “target” nations where there is violent persecution of religious minorities. It noted that the UK Home Office claims that Pakistani Christians were not at “real risk of persecution.” The report also called on the Home Office to “increase the religious literacy of its staff” so that those who processed asylum applications could recognise instances of religious persecution. It urged the Home Office not to restrict visas for religious leaders invited to the UK to share of the suffering in their own countries.

The UK Home Office faced criticism last month after it denied three archbishops from Iraq and Syria visas to attend the consecration of a Syriac Orthodox cathedral in west London, on the grounds that they lacked sufficient funds to support themselves and they might not leave the UK. Open Doors UK and Ireland urged the British Foreign Office to prioritise freedom of religion and recognise championing that right as a way to combat terrorism and poverty, arguing that unchecked political oppression of a minority “creates a breeding ground for violent and radical groups”.  In India, it said, since the landslide election of Hindu nationalist President Narendra Modi in 2014, there has been “a deterioration in freedom in all aspects of Indian society, and Hindu radicals have virtual impunity from the Government”.

Source: World Watch Monitor

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CHRISTIANS SEE HOPE DESPITE SYRIA’S FIVE YEARS OF WAR

Of an estimated population of 17 million in Syria, 11 million have either left the country or been internally displaced by the civil war which has entered its 5th year. For those still there, there are new beginnings with new opportunities – in both business and in living out their faith. Some enterprising Syrians in the churches are creating work and opportunities for those who stay on in the war-torn country, and others – church leaders – are adapting to the growing interest in Christianity of former Muslims in Syria and neighbouring Lebanon, where new former-Muslim believers can at times outnumber long-time church-goers. “We now have more than 20 ‘churches’ meeting in people’s houses and believe we will grow much bigger. More than 100 families are waiting for us to find them a house church,” said one pastor.

The opening of a factory usually signals renewed confidence in the economy; in Syria it’s a necessity, driven by a need to reverse the destruction caused by the civil war. Thirty people in one Syrian city which suffered terrible destruction, are newly employed in a furniture factory that recently opened. It’s hoped that a paying job will stop their families leaving the city like so many others.  The idea for the factory came from a local Orthodox priest. After drawing up a business plan he found a private partner and now its business prospects look good – the factory even has international orders on its books. In August last year a pharmacy opened in another besieged city in Syria. Again backed by church funding, it provides discounted medicines to the elderly and vulnerable.

A big challenge for people in Syria is the lack of a water supply. The water in some wells isn’t safe to drink. A church group decided to create a new well. “We got approval to dig much deeper than the usual 100 meters because deeper wells guarantee a continuous provision of water,” said a representative from the church. The well took six weeks to dig. “When we reached the required depth, a company installed the pump and filters to create water storage,” he added. The well should produce 10,000 litres of water each day, to serve 500 families, each allowed to take 20 litres of water each day. Many helping in the churches are themselves refugees and former Muslims. “I would say that 70% of our team helping refugees are refugees themselves who have come to Christ,” says a Lebanese pastor.

Before Syria’s civil war, it was unusual to find a Muslim converting to Christianity, but now you can find many former Muslims in churches in Syria and neighbouring Lebanon, where many Syrians have fled. A church leader in southern Syria thinks the war has played a part: “Muslims are open to hear from the Bible after the atrocities they’ve seen in the name of religion. “Some come because they found what they were taught about Christianity was wrong. They were raised to believe the Bible is corrupt.” Being away from family and friends has also allowed some to explore Christianity. “They are now displaced and their closest family members can’t see where they are going and what they are doing”. “So we are trying to equip them to be leaders in the future when they go back home.”

Church leaders overcome some of the challenges of former Muslims by using the language of Islam. “We give special lessons to answer their questions comparing Christianity and Islam” says one. “We say about faith that it’s “the same dish but with a different dressing”. We use some of their terms but never compromise about the truth,” says a pastor from Lebanon. Another one adds: “In my teaching I focus on the ideas that they carry from their former religion.” Church growth from former Muslims has its challenges, with long-time church members being initially suspicious. “We are cautious about their sincerity. These new believers used to persecute us. We get complaints from a few of the long-time Christian members.”

“Are these people true believers, or are they coming to spy, or because we are giving hand-outs?  I disciple them one-on-one first because of trust issues,” a pastor from Southern Syria says. “The new believers are afraid that other people will know about them because it is a scandalous thing in their community if people discover them being Christians”. One pastor in Damascus is cautious because the authorities don’t like Muslims converting to Christianity. “So we do our ministry with caution, keeping away from publicity and social media. We don’t tell anyone about the work.” All pastors say their churches have special discipleship training for these new believers. One says: “We disciple them and it changes their view of the world.  We encourage them to stay firm, despite the persecution and the trouble they face.”

Source: World Watch Monitor, published on 4 April, 2016 in the Australian Prayer Network Newsletter

Imminent new additional asylum seeker intake (2015) for Australia

Hello dear praying friends!

It’s been a while since my last posting. I had a welcome two weeks’ break and attended a four days conference to do with reconciliation in the world-wide Body of Christ. Truly inspiring!

Despite my silence, I hope that you have been persevering with praying for the needs of refugees. I certainly have!

I have felt greatly encouraged by Pope Francis’ clear exhortation to show more mercy to the plight of refugees and have spent some time reading through some people’s blogs about this issue. It is truly a divisive one in people’s minds. That’s when it is good to refer back to what God says in His word about how to treat the stranger and trust Him with the outcome, as we obey His word. Otherwise we become stuck with indecision, as many nations seem to be at present. That’s why it is good to have such an outspoken spokesperson on the issue as the Pope! May God bless him for it!

I feel that we now need to pray, in anticipation of the imminent new intake of extra refugees; that Australia – its authorities and population (us), would be ready to offer welcoming and warmth to the newcomers.

Attached find an article which explains in (hopefully) helpful detail what the new intake means. Julie Bishop has since confirmed this undertaking, despite the recent change of leadership.

Blessings to you!

Asylum seeker intake explained: Who will come to Australia under the Government’s plan?
By political reporter Anna Henderson and political editor Chris Uhlmann from the ABC
Updated 9 Sep 2015

The Federal Government has announced it will accept 12,000 extra refugees affected by conflict in Syria and Iraq.
Those accepted will be eligible for permanent resettlement in Australia.
But who will come, when will they get here and is Australia prepared for the new arrivals?

WHO WILL BE ELIGIBLE?

This is a one-off intake of 12,000 refugees displaced by the conflict in Syria and Iraq. This additional quota is on top of the existing 13,750 places already set aside for this financial year.

Displaced women, children and families will be prioritised from camps in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Single men are considered best able to look after themselves.

There will be a focus on persecuted minorities.

Unaccompanied minors present a very difficult task in terms of both identification and resettlement because the Government has to become their guardian.

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE SEEKING REFUGE?

There are 630,000 Syrians in Jordan who have already been registered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. There are 81,000 people in the Zaatari refugee camp. The situation in Lebanon and Turkey is less well ordered.

WHAT CHECKS WILL PEOPLE HAVE TO UNDERTAKE TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR REFUGEE STATUS?

Applicants will have identity, health, character and security checks. The identity checks will include taking biometric data.

Those chosen will have to complete an Australian values statement that pledges allegiance to the national way of life and laws.

Once they have been selected, there will be a final health check by one of the International Office of Migration’s panel doctors and a final security assessment.

There is no English language requirement and applicants could be assessed in the refugee camps or via video conferencing.

The refugees will be given permanent visas and will come to Australia on commercial flights.

WHEN WILL THE FIRST REFUGEES START ARRIVING?

It is hoped that the first group will arrive before Christmas, but the department already has a considerable caseload which includes the 13,750 people from the existing program and the 30,000 asylum seekers who have attempted to reach Australia by boat.

ARE AUSTRALIAN AUTHORITIES PREPARED?

The Immigration Department has a regional office in Dubai and an office in Amman. Other officials will be dispatched from Australia soon and a second wave in a month.

Immigration already has “intimate contact” with the UNHCR and a good knowledge of its systems.

CAN FAMILIES SPONSOR RELATIVES FOR THE POSITIONS?

Families that are already here cannot sponsor their family members under this program, but permanent residents can use existing family reunion programs to try and bring relatives to Australia.

HOW MUCH WILL THE 12,000-PLACE INCREASE COST?

The “conservative” estimate of the cost of this will be $700 million over the forward estimates. There is no quota system for states to share the burden and where people end up is yet to be sorted, but the Department of Social Services has a good idea of where the existing communities are.

WHY PUT AN EXTRA $44 MILLION INTO AID?

What the UNHCR wanted was money. The $44 million will help support 240,000 people through winter and into next year. The money comes from the emergency fund in DFAT’s Overseas Development Aid budget, which is used to respond to emergencies like tsunamis and earthquakes.

Prayer Points for The Refugee Situation in Europe (2015)

Father God, we lift up the refugee situation in Europe.

As wars and the threat of terror posed by many rogue terror groups increases all across the Middle East and the African Continent and as wars and rumours of wars become the norm (Matt. 24:6), we pray that the hearts of Europe’s leaders and its inhabitants would not grow cold (Matt. 24:12).

We pray especially for organisations that profess your Name to show leadership in caring for the stranger (Lev. 19:34; Ex. 22:21 and others).

Once again, we thank you for the leadership shown by such organisations as the UNHCR in trying to advocate on behalf of refugees.

We ask that you would soften and humble the hearts of those who act as advisers and policy makers to the EU, that they would recognize that the problems posed by the continuous floods of refugees seeking a new home in Europe are very great and that godly wisdom is the only lasting solution to this problem. May they show willingness to consider the welfare of individuals involved before economic considerations.

Some very damaging and impacting decisions have already been taken, due to a hardening of hearts, at the expense of further loss of life amongst fleeing refugees. Such measures have increased the hardship of the most vulnerable and eroded the notion of justice and mercy in Europe.

May the call to justice and a love of mercy go out all over Europe, especially across the Body of Christ. (Micah 6:8)

The Refugee Situation in Europe (2015)

Irregular immigration in the EU 2014The scale of … tragedies is shocking but no novelty. It is estimated that since 1993 some 20,000 migrants have died trying to cross Europe’s southern borders. The true figure is undoubtedly higher: Thousands have perished, their deaths unrecorded.

Who is to blame? European politicians point the finger at traffickers. On Monday (20.4.2015 my inclusion), European Union officials came up with a 10-point plan, including military action against smuggling networks.

…what pushes migrants into the hands of traffickers are the European Union’s own policies. The bloc’s approach to immigration has been to treat it as a matter not of human need, but of criminality. It has developed a three-pronged strategy of militarizing border controls, criminalizing migration and outsourcing controls.

For more than three decades, the European Union has been constructing what critics call “Fortress Europe,” a cordon protected by sea, air and land patrols, and a high-tech surveillance system of satellites and drones.

The decision last year to scrap Mare Nostrum, the Italian-run search-and-rescue program, highlights this strategy. Mare Nostrum was replaced by Operation Triton, smaller in scope and with an entirely different aim — not saving lives but surveillance and border protection. The number of migrants now attempting to reach Europe is little different from that for the same period last year, yet the death toll is about 18 times higher.

When the European Union treats immigration as a problem of criminality, it is not just the traffickers who are targets. In 2004, a German ship rescued 37 African refugees from a dinghy. When the ship entered a Sicilian port, it was seized by the authorities who charged the captain and first officer with aiding illegal immigration. They were acquitted only after a five-year court battle.

Similarly, in 2007, the Italian authorities tried to block two Tunisian fishing boats that had rescued 44 stranded migrants from docking at Lampedusa, an island between Sicily and Tunisia. The captains were charged with assisting illegal immigration. Not until 2011 did an appeals court overturn all the convictions.

Such cases are not aberrations. Treating good Samaritans as common criminals is the inevitable consequence of the European Union’s immigration policy.

…current policy is not preventing people from migrating; it is simply killing them, by the boatload.

Kenin Malik, The New York Times, 21 April 2015

“According to the UNHCR, Europe received some 714,300 asylum claims in 2014, up from 485,000 in 2013. EU member states accounted for 80 percent of this number in 2014—an increase of 44 percent compared to 2013. As to the country of origin of these asylum seekers, the top 5 countries in descending order were Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Eritrea. Syria and Iraq accounted for 30.1 percent of all asylum applications made in the EU. Many refugees do not immediately apply for asylum in their first point of entry. Those arriving in Southern Europe and the Balkans sometimes prefer to wait until they are in northern countries, given their better benefits, to apply. Others, lacking proper documentation or unsure of their asylum prospects, may never apply. They disappear into informal jobs as they try and build a new life for themselves.

Chances of receiving asylum vary widely. In the United Kingdom, 36 percent of applicants in 2013 received an initial positive decision. For the others, there are appeal processes in play and various other means of staying in the country, legally or otherwise; only 24 percent of the 2013 cohort were sent back or took advantage of voluntary repatriation schemes.The EU averaged a 25 percent approval rate in 2013, with Malta (72 percent) and Italy (62 percent) having the highest rates. Only four countries – Germany, Italy, France and Sweden – accounted for over two-thirds of asylum applications in that year.

While Syrians represented the largest of number asylum seekers in 2014, that number (149,600) is tiny compared to the total number of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries (4 million) and to those internally displaced within the country (8 million). Still, the number of Syrian asylum seekers increased as did Iraqi asylum seekers. Iraqi asylum seekers stood at 68,700 in 2014, more than double the 2013 figure of 37,300. Turkey registered 50,500 or 74 percent of all Iraqi asylum seekers in 2014. Compared to the number of Syrians and Iraqis taken in by bordering countries (Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey), Europe, and countries like the United States, Australia and others have remained largely closed to those seeking refuge from the wars in Syria and Iraq.

Efforts by the EU to stem the flow of arrivals from the Mediterranean by relying on fences and closed doors will only serve to displace the challenge. Ultimately, a policy of managed immigration is likely to be the final outcome as the UNHCR calls for a more robust search-and-rescue operation and enhanced legal avenues such as resettlement programs, humanitarian visas, and enhanced family reunification measures. However the EU will also have to deal with the government in Tripoli(Tripoli, largest city and chief seaport and the national capital of Libya, located in north-western Libya on the North African coast of the Mediterranean Sea, 500 km (310 mi) south of Sicily/Italy [Wikipedia], my addition), which controls the ports of departure but is unrecognized by the EU. A strategy will also be needed to spread the burden of asylum seekers more equitably across the EU, open transit camps in North Africa and elsewhere, and strong>tackle the smugglers and the financial gains made possible by current policies.

However, this is in reality a small portion of the global crisis of refugees and IDPs. We should by all means tackle this human tragedy and end the horrors being witnessed in the Mediterranean. But we should also recognize that the global problem is getting worse as the wars in the Middle East and elsewhere continue, and people are displaced, killed, and maimed every day. Closing doors and building fences work in very limited ways. Refugees can have an impact on whole societies and regions decades after the tragedies that led to their displacement. Just as we are doing with climate change and global epidemics, it’s time for a global response to the refugee crisis—before it further destabilizes an already fragile global order.

Omer Karasapan, Regional Knowledge & Learning Coordinator, World Bank, published by Brookings, published 23.4.2015

 

New Proposals by the UNHCR

“UNHCR’s new proposals include the establishment of a robust European search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean, similar to the Italian Mare Nostrum operation which came to an end last year, and to set up a EU scheme to compensate shipping companies for losses incurred while rescuing people in distress at sea.

UNHCR is also urging the EU to explore solutions to address challenges once refugees arrive in Europe, ensuring adequate support for them and avoiding a few countries having to shoulder the main responsibility for them.

At the moment, most people seeking safety in Europe arrive in a few states in the external border of the EU while, at the same time, a handful of countries, mainly Germany and Sweden, receive the largest number of asylum applications. To address this imbalance, intra-European solidarity is needed. Countries such as Italy and Greece should be supported to adequately receive asylum seekers and process their asylum applications. In addition, UNHCR is proposing a pilot project for the relocation of Syrian refugees who are rescued at sea in Greece and Italy to different countries across Europe, based on a fair distribution system.

Currently, Germany and Sweden alone have received around 56% of all Syrian asylum applications since the conflict started. This pilot project would seek a better distribution of Syrians recognized as refugees, among all countries in the EU and also contribute to reduce the risk of trafficking and exploitation linked to the current onward movements within the EU.

For asylum seekers, the Dublin Regulation, which defines state responsibility for processing asylum claims, should be fully implemented including using all tools available, such as family reunification, unaccompanied children, and the use of discretion for certain cases with more distant family links or other needs. These are tools which have been designed by EU States and should be used effectively.

As Syria’s conflict enters its fifth year with almost 4 million refugees, predominantly in the countries neighbouring Syria, increasing legal avenues for Syrian refugees to find protection in Europe is becoming imperative. UNHCR calls on European countries to make larger commitments to receive refugees through sustainable resettlement programmes and to intensify their efforts to increase opportunities for other forms of admission, so that people seeking safety can find it in Europe without having to resort to smugglers and dangerous irregular movements.

More opportunities for resettlement and other alternatives are needed, such as using private sponsorship, humanitarian visas, student and work visas. UNHCR is ready to explore conditions to expand programmes for more resettlement and for other forms of admission to the EU.

“As anti-foreigner rhetoric echoes through Europe, it is important that we remember that refugees are fleeing war and violence in places such as Syria. We need to recognize the positive contributions that they and their families make to the societies in which they live and also honour core European values: protecting lives, human rights and promoting tolerance and diversity,” said Cochetel. “UNHCR’s proposal includes also efforts to ensure that solid national integration support programmes are developed, and that refugees receive the support they need to contribute to our societies.”

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNHCR proposals to address current and future arrivals of asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants by sea to Europe, March 2015

 

Further Proposals and Reflections

“The EU should create asylum procedures at the embassies of its member states in the same way Switzerland has done. This would mean that in the future, refugees could apply for asylum at the embassies of EU member states outside of Europe. This would spare them the potentially deadly path across the borders.

The visa requirement for people from countries in crisis like Syria or Eritrea should also be temporarily lifted. That would allow asylum-seekers to request admission at European border control posts without being given blanket rejection by police. The EU’s Dublin Regulation, which only allows refugees to apply for asylum in their country of arrival, also needs to be eliminated. Instead, asylum-seekers should be distributed among EU countries through a quota system. The freedom of movement that has long applied to EU citizens should then also be extended to recognized refugees.

Contrary to what European leaders and interior ministers claim, deaths at Europe’s borders can be prevented. At the very least, their numbers could be dramatically reduced. But that requires a readiness on the part of Europeans to protect people and not just borders.”

Maximilian Popp, Spiegel Online International, 20.4.2015

 

Trading quotas

A quota-trading mechanism may persuade more policymakers to accept a quota system. Under such a mechanism, states would be able to sell all or part of their quotas to another EU state. For example, France could avoid accepting all 87,000 of its quota by paying money to Malta, who would accept all or some of these refugees. Malta would then have more than 4,300 asylum seekers, but would also have more funds to make up for the “burden” of accepting more than its quota. However, for a quota trading mechanism to work, four concerns must be addressed:

There is, firstly, an ethical concern. Some may object to a quota scheme on the grounds that it ‘commodifies’ refugees, rather than respecting their rights. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has rejected a quota scheme using this logic. “Asylum is a right”, he stated, and so “cannot be subject to quotas”.

A second concern, of a more empirical nature, is that it is not clear that trading quotas would distribute costs fairly. Were France to pay Malta a very large amount of money to take some of its asylum seekers, the money may still not be enough for Malta to process all claims in an efficient manner, forcing asylum seekers into detention facilities in Malta until their claims are heard.

Another potential worry could be that if a country is paid or required to process an asylum claim, they may refuse to recognise these asylum seekers as refugees, even if they merit this status. The more money a country receives to deal with claims, the greater the incentive for it to process more claims in a shorter period of time: potentially rejecting claims quickly, agreeing to process more, and then rejecting these still. This is especially worrisome for countries, such as Spain, who have a history of abusing refugees and asylum seekers. Other states may accept refugees, but generally deny permanent residency or likely paths to citizenship, as in Germany.

A final concern relates to EU funding for immigration control in third countries to prevent onward migration to Europe. Some of these funds go to detention centres, including the one in the Nafusa Mountains. The Libyan government is paid to keep refugees within its borders so that they do not reach Europe, but there is little genuine protection: a key EU goal.

When the EU funds third countries, this may also encourage refugees to try and reach Europe, undermining the EU goal of securing its borders. Though detention in Libya may seem to prevent individuals from getting on a boat to Italy, it may also encourage them to try: paying off guards to escape detention, and then smugglers to escape the country. Even if over 20,000 migrants died at sea over the last two decades, and 3,000 in 2014, it is likely that many more died within Libya, including in detention. Some refugees may be attempting to cross the Mediterranean to escape the very conditions created to prevent them from reaching Europe.

Effective quotas

For a quota mechanism to ensure refugees are protected, it must guarantee that EU states do not reject asylum seekers with strong claims to refugee status. One solution would be to create a separate EU body for processing all asylum claims. However, such a body may face political pressure to reject claims because every state would need to accept a proportion of them, thereby ensuring every state has an interest in their claims being rejected. This is not a definitive reason for opposing quota trading, but rather a reason to make certain that the process for determining who is a refugee is especially strong and unbiased.

Furthermore, to guarantee refugees are protected in a trading scheme, no state should be able to pay another state to accept refugees for less money than the cost of processing claims.

Finally, payment schemes should not be extended to third countries outside of the EU who have failed to provide refugee protection. Funding detention centres in third countries may fail to protect refugees, and encourages onward migration to Europe.

Ultimately, some may still object to a quota mechanism. If migration is a right, we may struggle to see how it can be subject to quotas. However, quota trading needn’t be a commodification of rights, but a way of distributing costs. It would ensure that states that accept disproportionately more asylum seekers are compensated for doing so, and those who accept fewer pay for the privilege.

Mollie Gerver , PhD Candidate, Department of Government, London School of Economics,

 

Some Christian Thoughts and Initiatives

“What is needed is a system of prevention, rather than cure, such as the new UN ‘early warning system’. They aim to detect as soon as possible if and where the conditions arise that will cause people to flee”.

(Robin Schneider, Social Anthropologist, Berlin Institute for Comparative Social Research).

…the situation in Europe is not as dramatic as many newspapers and politicians pretend. Yet, why are Europeans so unwilling to admit more foreigners into their countries? According to Ute Osterkamp (Psychologist, Free University in Berlin)… the real cause of the hostility is the existential uncertainty confronting many Europeans.  …people do not put the reason – and thus the solution – for this uncertainty with themselves, but with others, with foreigners. “The government should …create jobs (rather) than to create tightly closed asylum centres” Mrs Osterkamp explained.

Refugees & the Future of Europe, World Student Christian Federation, 23 August 2013

Refugee Highway Partnership (RHP) website:

Some of the recent efforts and areas of interest related to the asylum issues in Europe have included:

  • raising awareness of the journey to Europe and its effect in the lives of refugees;
  • meeting stranded refugees;
  • tracing where refugee and national churches are connecting;
  • highlighting various training opportunities;
  • connecting refugees to churches;
  • building-up “Welcome Centres”
  • supporting resettlement opportunities;
  • affecting EU policy

Some news clips published on the RHP website, for prayer:

*The European Commission is set to propose next week that 40,000 asylum seekers who have arrived by boat in Italy and Greece should be relocated across the continent in response to what it considers an emergency situation in both countries.  The proposal, revealed to Reuters by an EU source familiar with a draft, follows plans announced last week for the European Union to take in 20,000 asylum-seekers currently living outside the bloc.  The Commission has also set a quota system, based on a country’s size and economic health, for those resettled migrants as well as for those relocated within the EU.  The EU measure is due to be finalised on Wednesday and would need majority support from EU nations expecting to take in some of the migrants (Fri May 22, 2015).

(some good news for a change, my comment): *”I am really amazed at how much this country has changed – even a decade ago this would have created anger and distrust, but today I’m hearing nothing but welcome for the new refugees – people are being really open,” says Zerai Kiros Abraham, a former Eritrean refugee who now runs Project Moses, a refugee-settlement charity in Frankfurt. And Susanne Simmler, head of the regional council. “We have labour shortages and demographic changes here, so we need new people – and a rural region like this normally does not attract immigrants.”  “For now, the big question, across the country, is where to house them all.” (May 23, 2015)

*…tens of thousands of migrants and refugees — desperate to escape violence and poverty at home — have opted for the safer Balkan land route through the former Yugoslavia and into the E.U. through Hungary. Last month alone 7,000 migrants and refugees — primarily from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan — crossed the frontier between Serbia and Hungary, according to Frontex. Last April, just 900 crossed there (May 22, 2015)

*Pray for Israel, they have received thousands of Jewish refugees from Ukraine (Nov 2014).

*Asylum seekers have become easy target for human traffickers. In Italy last week 4000 children were missing from the refugee centers (Nov 2014).

*The UN refugee agency warned Tuesday that as many as 400,000 people may flee to Turkey from Syria’s Kurdish region to escape attacks by the Islamic State group. Turkey, already hosting some 1.5 million refugees from more than three years of war in Syria, has come under mounting pressure amid the latest influx. (Oct 2014)

(General comment re this document: all highlighting mine)

Syrian Refugees – Prayer Points

Abba Father, we lift up this traumatised, scattered people group fleeing the madness of death and destruction in their homeland, for the sake of gaining or maintaining ultimate power. This war is fought by many in the name of Allah, whom they see as God.

We pray that You would reveal Yourself to them, through Your ministering servants (Christians) as the God who serves, by dying for us and by presently sharing in their suffering.

We thank you for organisations like the UNHCR and many other organisations that provide shelter, clothing, food, sanitation and water.

Last but not least; we pray for a cease-fire in Syria and a workable management of power, in the interest of its people and not its leaders, in order for refugees to be able to return to their homeland and all Syrians to live in peace.