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World Refugee Day comes as crisis is now worse than ever

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance director says global refugee crisis was a prominent issue at international meetings

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — In the past few months, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) Director the Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus has seen the gravity of the global refugee crisis.

As partner churches and organizations begin to cautiously gather again in the wake of the Covid pandemic, Kraus has taken two trips abroad for meetings with the World Council of Churches Specialized Ministry Group, the ACT Alliance Board of Governors, the Middle East Council of Churches General Assembly, the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon and other church partners.

“One of the things foremost in my mind, that came up at all four of those gatherings, was how serious the refugee crisis has become,” Kraus said Monday at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville, Kentucky. “It was already catastrophic. It was already worse than even World War II, which was the previous high mark. A couple of years ago, we were looking at 70 million people on the move globally. We are now well over 100 million people because of the additional people fleeing Ukraine because of the war with Russia.”

The Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus, director of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, visits with children in Syria in April 2017. Kraus recently returned to Europe and the Middle East for the first time since the Covid pandemic and says the global refugee crisis is worse than ever. (Photo by Presbyterian News Service)

That is why Kraus believes that this World Refugee Day, observed every year on June 20, is more important than ever. In addition to the high-profile situations in Ukraine and Afghanistan, she notes ongoing needs in places like Syria and Lebanon, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tigray in Ethiopia, the Caribbean and Central America, and the refugee crisis at the U.S. Southern border.

In observance of World Refugee Day, PDA has put together a resource page to help people learn how they can support refugees and the work of the church in addressing the crisis. The page encourages people to join in observing the day by:

  • Recognizing the courage and resilience of refugees
  • Celebrating the positive impact refugees have on U.S. communities
  • Calling for peaceful resolution to conflicts around the world that cause so many people to become refugees and internally displaced
  • Working to create welcome and safety in countries of refuge and transit
  • Working within our churches, our communities and with our elected leaders to expand the welcome that we extend to refugees and immigrants who are our neighbors.

The page goes on to expand on these ideas and shows other ways to get involved.

Already this year, Presbyterians have shown an outpouring of generosity to refugees around the world, quickly raising more than $1 million for the church’s response in Ukraine and continuing to give. Kraus is grateful for the support and encourages people to support a broad response to the global refugee crisis.

Click here to give to PDA’s refugee response

World Refugee Day gives Kraus a chance to say “a strong word of thanks to our church, which has been so generous in its response to Ukraine, and to remember that our generosity to the most urgent and most recent crisis can also be matched by continued generosity to all the other crises that get forgotten and neglected. So, World Refugee Day, please join us for the worship opportunities and the chances to acknowledge and stand with those who were on the move.”

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is able to respond to the global refugee crisis thanks to your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing. It is one of the Compassion, Peace and Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

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