November 13, 2015 - Update
The refugee crisis continues to grow, with increasing numbers of refugees fleeing Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries. As of November, the number of refugees in Europe is approximately 700,000, with 70 percent having arrived in Greece. Every day, between 5,000 and 8,000 people embark on the arduous journey from Greece northwards. Another 300 to 400 refugees per day, unable to pay the sea crossing, embark through Turkey and Bulgaria, locked in trucks.
With temperatures dropping, the sea route taken by most refugees from Turkey to Greece is increasingly perilous. Yet refugees continue risking their lives to reach safe havens. In 2015, some 2,000 Syrians have drowned in the Mediterranean attempting to reach European shores. Others have become victims of trafficking, are subjected to abuse en route, or both. Some spend their life savings or take on massive debt for a new start. Refugee families need food, water, sanitation, protection from the elements and legal advice.
Impact to Date
CRS is supporting 51,000 refugees with relief assistance, and is set to reach even more in the coming weeks. We are providing:
- Food and emergency living supplies: 7,657 people have received essential food and living supplies.
- Medical assistance: 1,098 people have received treatment provided by CRS doctors at refugee aid points in Serbia and Macedonia.
- Temporary shelter: 3,115 people have benefited from a CRS-constructed shelter and hygiene center in Serbia.
- Winter clothing: 1,760 people have received winter clothing and raincoats.
- Information, translation, legal resources: 8,020 people have used CRS translators and information services to access medical, legal and humanitarian assistance. Another 70,000 have received general information from CRS translators and staff on site.
Resettlement in Germany
In Germany, where the massive influx of refugees is overwhelming government and social service resources, dozens of local Catholic dioceses and thousands of volunteers are stepping in. Caritas Germany and its partners are providing critical services for some of the 800,000 refugees and migrants expected to apply for asylum and safe refuge. CRS will support Caritas Germany in resettling Syrian refugees and uprooted families—providing shelter, job opportunities and early integration activities, such as language classes. CRS will also support training for local Church and Caritas volunteers at thefrontlines assisting refugee families seeking a safe place to call home.
Spotlight: Caritas Athens
CRS partner Caritas Athens is providing culturally appropriate hot meals to 400 people every day in its refugee center. In addition, donations of old and new clothes allow newly arrived refugee families to choose from a selection of much-needed winter clothing and shoes. Since mid-August, Caritas Athens has reached more than 2,400 women, children and men with food and clothing. Other support at Caritas Athens includes a children’s recreation center, hygiene supplies, and legal and medical referrals.
Disseminating Vital Information
CRS is providing urgent information to refugees and migrants in a number of key ways, including collaborating with the International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps on a web portal—refugeeinfo.eu. CRS is providing up-to-date information for this portal, and has been a key informant on the situation in Athens in particular. CRS is also developing leaflets on safe migration and services, for distribution at key migration sites. All information is available in Arabic and Farsi.
Local Refugee Resettlement
Catholic Charities has been assisting refugees for more than 40 years, including refugees from Syria. Families are provided housing, household items, clothing, food, job search assistance and other services. Parishes have “sponsored” refugee families and provided both concrete assistance (payment for rent, etc.) and companionship (visiting with parish groups, or one on one with adult refugees). To learn more about sponsoring a refugee family or donating goods or services, please contact the Refugee Resettlement Program at: (312) 655-7096.
The Presidential Determination for Refugee Admission to the U.S. for Fiscal Year 2016 has already been increased to 85,000 from 70,000 in FY2015. 10,000 of these have been reserved for Syrian refugees.
To support the Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Program, visit the Catholic Charities donation portal and indicate Refugee Resettlement under 'Other.'
ACTION ALERT: Congress deciding on aid budget
This week, we have the opportunity to impact the humanitarian aid provided to migrants and refugees in crisis. Urge Congress to robustly fund humanitarian and development core poverty accounts, and provide at least $1 billion increase to migrant refugees. Click here to send a letter to your senators and representative, or call your members of Congress using the CCGP toll-free number: 888-562-8232.
Emergency Appeal - Updated November 13, 2015
Providing Relief to Families Fleeing Conflict
CRS is working with Church partners primarily in Greece, Macedonia, Croatia and Serbia--countries overstretched in their capacity to respond. Relief efforts provide immediate assistance, including food, water, sanitation, medical care, legal services and trauma counseling, and CRS and partners will adapt programming to meet the rapidly changing needs on the ground, remaining faithful to our principles to support those in greatest need, regardless of national, religious and ideological beliefs.
Conflicts, civil strife and economic conditions in the Middle East, Asia and Africa--particularly ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq--have forced millions from their homes and dramatically increased the flow of refugees and economic migrants to Europe. As the Syrian conflict enters its fifth year, a combination of desperation and hope is leading growing numbers of Syrians to attempt an extremely perilous journey toward Europe. Harrowing stories have emerged of death, starvation and abuse at the hands of people smugglers. In 2015 alone, some 2,000 Syrians have drowned in the Mediterranean in their attempt to reach European shores.
While CRS is providing comprehensive emergency relief to hundreds of thousands of people uprooted across the region, in the United States, we continue to advocate for negotiated settlements to resolve these conflicts at their source.
A Call for Collective Action
Please pray and consider donating generously to help CRS strengthen their response to the migrant and refugee crisis in the Middle East. Mail donations to:
ATTN: Migrant & Refugee Crisis Emergency Appeal
Catholic Relief Services
3525 S. Lake Park Ave
Chicago, IL 60653
Bulletin or Website Blurb
Nearly 59.4 million of our brothers and sisters are suffering displacement and death from the internal conflicts of their countries. Please pray for peace as they seek safety and help, in the midst of the civil and economic strife in the Middle East and other parts of the world.
Please consider donating to Catholic Relief Services at: www.chicagopeaceandjustice.org/emergencyappeal
A Prayer for Refugees:
God of our Wandering Ancestors, long have we known that your heart is with the refugee:
That you were born into time in a family of refugees, fleeing violence in their homeland,
Who then gathered up their hungry child and fled into alien country.
Their cry, your cry, resounds through the ages: 'Will you let me in?'
Give us hearts that break open when our brothers and sisters turn to us with that same cry.
Then surely all these things will follow:
Ears will no longer turn deaf to their voices.
Eyes will see a moment for grace instead of a threat.
Tongues will not be silenced but will instead advocate.
And hands will reach out—working for peace in their homeland, working for justice in the lands where they seek safe haven.
Lord, protect all refugees in their travels. May they find a friend in me, and so make me worthy of the refuge I have found in you.