Refugees are people forced from their countries by war, civil conflict, political strife or gross human rights abuses. Experts estimate that there are 16 million refugees in the world today. Recently, you've probably seen stories on the news about refugees from Iraq and Sudan.
The United Nations General Assembly has designated June 20th World Refugee Day to honor the millions of refugees as they seek to build a better life. Every day thousands of people are forced to move if they are to save their lives or preserve their freedom. They are united by hope for a better future and a chance to restore peace to their lives.
For more than 60 years, The Episcopal Church has been advocating for and resettling refugees. Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) was once part of the Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief and is now one of ten agencies that work with the U.S. Department of State to resettle refugees. EMM receives federal funding, but relies upon the support of individual parishes and its affiliate network to provide direct services to refugees. You can learn more about these efforts during EMM's Refugee Day webcast – details here.
The Episcopal Church's goal is to carry forth the voice of refugees, immigrants, and other at-risk uprooted groups for whom protection through better public policy is needed.
At a time when the number of conflict-affected displaced persons is on the rise, it is essential that U.S. funding for humanitarian programs keeps pace with the need for life-saving assistance. It is especially important to do so during this period of global economic stress. Once refugees reach our shores, we have an obligation to ensure that they have the support they need to quickly get on their feet, secure employment, and integrate into their communities.