WEA's Engagement with Refugees
The UN estimates that there are 51.2 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. Nearly every nation feels the direct impact of the global refugee crisis. Whether in countries of origin, countries of refuge, countries of transit or countries of resettlement, local communities of faith have a unique and essential offering to make in helping forcibly displaced people recover from humanitarian disaster and trauma.
The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) engages on behalf of forcibly displaced people at the United Nations (UN), raises awareness among churches through the World Refugee Sunday and supports and endorses the Refugee Highway Partnership (RHP), a WEA Global Partner. Together with the RHP, the WEA offers a variety of resources and helpful connections to empower local churches to effectively welcome and serve refugees.
The WEA shares the observation of Mr. António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who said:
...for the vast majority of uprooted people, there are few things as powerful as their faith in helping them cope with fear, loss, separation, and destitution. Faith is also central to hope and resilience. ...in most circumstances local religious communities are the first which our people of concern turn to for protection, assistance and counselling. Faith-based organisations often enjoy higher levels of trust from the community, better access and broader local knowledge, all of which are important assets in programme design and delivery, including in complex and insecure environments.1
In 2013, the WEA participated in drafting Welcoming the Stranger: Affirmations for Faith Leaders, a series of affirmations developed at the initiation of the UNHCR in collaboration with leading faith-based humanitarian organizations and academic institutions. They are intended to serve as a tool to promote and foster support for refugees and other displaced people in the local communities, and also offer common ground for diverse faith-based institutions and humanitarian agencies as they respond to people displaced by humanitarian crisis.
The WEA encourages churches and agencies to embrace these affirmations. The multi-lingual document is available for download here.
1Quote from the High Commissioner's Dialogue of Protection - Theme: Faith and Protection